I will be participating in the Let's Walk, Let's Talk ... Stepping Together to Prevent Suicide in honor of my brother Tommy. Money raised from this event will be used to raise awareness of suicide prevention in our community.
my eulogy in case you missed it:
I didn’t sleep very well last night. Thoughts and feelings and memories flooded my restless dreams. Never did I imagine having to pull this together, at least not now. But here we are. In a room full of people who loved him. In case some of you didn’t realize, I’m the baby. My big brother was 11 years older than me, 7 years older than my sister. My perspective is a bit different of course. My brother wasn’t always so nice. You see, I could not walk by a pool without getting thrown in. I could not have a leisurely swim without the threat of being dunked. A quiet moment in the bathroom turned to mayhem when he pounded on the door with viscous giggling in the background. A solid punch in the arm always resulted in retribution. Did my brother love me? He used to bring my sister and I on his dates sometimes. He’d bring us everywhere with his friends, Great Adventure, the movies. Even to Action Park where all of our lives were in danger. He’d be at every softball game or to drive me to my 6th grade dance in his Trans Am. He’d pick my friends and I up from a birthday party and take us for ice cream…while on a date. Remember Laurie? When we all got down to the cone? When I moved to Texas, I remember him packing his wife and three kids in the car to pick me up at the airport when I came home to visit. Not just once or twice, by the way.
What some people may not realize about my brother was his intrinsic desire to help. He would drop everything at a moment’s notice if he could be of assistance. He ran supplies to ground zero when our city was falling apart. He always pulled over when someone was stranded or in an accident to see what he could do. He stepped up when his friend’s son, Ben, suffered a traumatic brain injury to assist in any way at the Brendan House and New Beginnings Community Center. For his family, he volunteered for 12 years to coach 3 sports for his children. He held BYA fundraisers, worked with the 3rd precinct COPE division to reward children for wearing helmets and ran the little league.
I don’t necessarily have to mention his wife and children, do I? But I will because they were his core, his life, his heart. The nurse and the police officers. He was always bursting with pride. He was fiercely protective of them. And Laurie…how many times did we have to hear “the love of my life”? Well, aside from Louie.
My brother wasn’t perfect. In fact, there were many times, particularly affecting his own family, his world, that life was downright awful. Some turned their back on him, others judged. His struggles came and went. When he was on an upswing, he was the best that he could be. The absolute best. This is how I choose to remember him. What I will say to you all right now is to look around. Someone here is struggling. Tommy’s struggles were recognized. Laurie, in particular, was his angel who was sent here to carry him when he was crumbling. His triumphs were celebrated. He was so very loved. It wasn’t enough. Do not be angry with him. I will miss his booming voice when he entered a room, I will miss the stories of rattling windows, crabs and numerous mischievous activities that couldv’e been slightly exaggerated. I will miss family dinners as they were, frequent nights out to go dancing, his jokes and his contagious laughter. Have compassion and nothing else. Hold him in your heart and know he is finally at peace.