There are times in life that we must face the things we dread.
Losing a dear friend or family member is above all the most dreaded things we will ever have to face.
On Friday May 27th 2016, we all endured the painful news.
That suddenly, you were gone.
The last time I saw you was about a month ago. I’ll never forget how happy I was to see you. Even after a few years of having not seen each other, we picked up right where we left off.
I made a few bad jokes, and of course you were the only one who laughed.
Your smile and contagious laugh filled the room as always. We laughed about old times, quoted South Park and old movies.
We talked about training and tattoos and I couldn’t wait for you to come check out the new gym so we can train together like the old days.
If I only knew that would be the last time we’d see each other I would have said so much more…
I can’t express how happy I am that I got to spend that night with you, my friend.
We first met when we were 12 years old in middle school wrestling and remained friends ever since.
The laughs, the fun, the parties, the trips, the shore houses, wrestling, football and all the memories will last forever in my heart.
What will stick with me the most is how you changed the mood of everyone around you. You had the ability to walk into a room and make everyone smile.
You elevated the lives of everyone who knew you, and I am lucky to be one of the many people whose lives you have touched.
For years I called you Patrick because Patrick Duffy was the name of the actor from the t.v. show “Step By Step”. Maybe it was funny the first time, but you literally laughed at that every time I saw you.
But funny, kind, supportive, caring and loving were only a few of your incredible qualities.
You were also tough as nails and you’ve shown us that for years on the wrestling mat, and then by defending our country as a United States Marine.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are more than proud and honored to have known such a brave soul who was willing to risk everything only to protect all of us.
And for that Tom, we thank you.
It hurts to know that I can’t see your smile anymore, at least in this life.
But I know you will be smiling down on all of us, keeping us safe, as you have always done in this life.
As I write this post I can’t stop the tears from running down my face, or my hands from shaking. You were my friend, my brother, and you will be truly missed by us all.
We lost a great man, a true hero.
And heaven has now become a better place.
But I know that if you were here you would want us all to smile.
So as I try to dry my eyes I am thinking of all the great times and laughs we had.
Like the time when I thought you were the one that wrapped my car in plastic wrap, so I retaliated by emptying about 10 cans of shaving cream on your car. When I walked into the house you asked why my hands were covered in shaving cream. When I replied “Ahh I was just shaving” you simply said, “oh”. As if it made perfect sense that my hands would be covered in shaving cream at a high school party.
I tried my best to hold in my laughter. You walked outside, came back in and, in typical Duffy fashion, you screamed “YOU ASSHOLE” as we started to laugh hysterically together.
I am going to miss you, Duff… I already do.
They say that to find yourself in life you should think about your own funeral. Ask yourself what you would want people to say about you once you are gone. When you answer those questions you should then live your life trying to pursue those things.
Well my friend, you should hear the things people are saying…
How incredible you were.
How you made us laugh.
How you made us smile.
How good it was to be around you.
How you made us happy.
How much fun we had.
How bright you were.
How brave you were.
How you would give the shirt off your back to someone who needed it.
How incredibly great of a human being you truly were.
I can only wish to be half of the quality person you were.
Your legacy will always include how great you made other people feel, and that is a trait that is truly special.
I know you are listening, pal.
So I will leave you with this…
Duff, actually, PATRICK…You are one of those people you only come across once in a lifetime. You have deeply impacted the lives of so many. Through the warmth of your smile, the comfort of your laugh, your intelligence and humor. We have shared so many memories together that I will never forget. From scavenger hunts to beach wrestling prom weekend to searching for openings to become volunteer firefighters and everything else in between. I am so thankful you were in my life and everyone that knew you certainly feels the same. Your spirit will always live on, through all of us, your friends and your family. I promise we will always be there for your family, whatever they may need. We will support them through this difficult time, and from here on after. Keep shining that bright smile down on all of us. Whenever I say, “I’m not your buddy, guy…I’m not your guy, friend” I will always think of you and the times we shared. I love you, Duff and I will miss you ALWAYS. I will never forget how much you made me laugh, and all of the incredible memories. I am a better man for having known such a courageous, impeccable human being like you. I hate that I can’t hear your laugh just one more time.
At least not for now.
Not in this life.
Not until, we meet again.
Rest easy my brother.