I’ve learned many things about myself over the past few weeks. The greatest of which came last Tuesday, when my brother, Tom, passed away at the age of 42. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer just 13 months before and his fight ended with one last peaceful breath. He was surrounded by his wife and my parents, holding his hand and staying with him until the very end.
Tom is the oldest sibling, leaving behind two brothers, two sisters, four children, a wife, and two parents. People aren’t supposed to die before their parents. This is especially true for people like Tom. He had a dry, sarcastic sense of humor and his smile filled the room. Often times people search hard for nice things to say about someone, but you didn’t need to search hard when it came to Tom. He was truly one of the kindest and most gentle people I’d ever known. He just happened to be my brother.
Tom’s birthday was just a few days before Christmas, and my parents told me that he used to wait anxiously for his birthday money to come in so he could buy Christmas gifts for everyone else. Tom was a big man, with an even bigger heart. His sickness and eventual passing forced me to reassess my life. It made me look at my priorities and how quickly time goes by.
I’m blessed to have a beautiful wife, four energetic kids, and a loving family. I’ve made some terrible mistakes in my life. There are many choices I’ve made that I’m not proud of and would be ashamed to admit. I have few regrets, however, as those things have made me stronger and I’ve done my best to learn from those errors. Losing Tom caused me to appreciate what I have in a way I’ve never done before.
I text or call my mom every day to tell her that I love her. I’ve been telling the same things to my siblings more often and spending quality time with my dad. I cherish the time I have with my kids and kiss my wife on the cheek. These are things that are easy to take for granted, but I’m determined to live the rest of my life without ever taking them for granted again.
Thank you, Tom, for being such a kind-hearted person and I wish we had lived closer as adults. We all miss you and enjoy telling the stories that make us laugh.