I remember it as if it were yesterday. I took a job back on the road because I loved the freedom and the money it brought. It allowed me to go do a job for a week, no matter how stressful, how demanding, how tiring and a week later, I would be done. I got hired on with a company out of Chicago and my first assignment was the Biltmore in Arizona.
I was nervous and excited. I knew no one on the roster aside from the girl that got me the job. Arriving at the hotel, I quickly got acquainted with the team. We had lunch and went off into our respective groups. Our mission was to help deliver a successful and unforgettable meeting.
There was one gent who was very nice named Tom. He had the kindest eyes and the biggest smile. He never had a bad word to say and was always positive. We spent the first day assembling welcome packets together and Tom just had a sense of humor that wouldn't quit. I can remember telling a snarky joke and his laughter made me instantaneously feel better. Hearing him laugh made me laugh harder, because I was laughing, others started joining in. It was a marvelous day and one that will forever more live in my memory.
That evening, which is what all event staff look forward to because of the wine and snacks. It was a casual event and I had the opportunity to learn about each of my teammates, Judy, jennifer, Geno and Tom. I took a special liking to Tom because he seemed so genuine.
The week progressed. Laughter was shared, hugs were given often and the term camaraderie formed in my miniscule brain.
The years passed on and I saw Tom on the road a handful of times. One time in 2011 after a long trip in San Francisco, I happened to run into him at the Delta lounge. We shared a few Jack Daniels on the rocks, discussed our busy schedules, hoped to see each other on the road soon and wished each other well and with a big hug we said our goodbyes.
Tom always sent Christmas cards. Every year without fail. I could be having the worst day ever and getting Toms card always made me feel better. I always appreciated working with him. I always told him I loved him and always gave him a big hug.
Word came to me yesterday that Tom passed on Saturday due to complications with cancer. We are not 100 % sure of the cause but, the fact is Tom is no longer with us. He was a force to be reckoned with. He was a Hurricane Katrina of positivity. No matter how shitty my day, the guy could get me out of my head long enough to muster up a real smile.
Tom was a mentor to me. He took me under his wing on one of my first programs back and made everything okay. Even in the midst of all of his personal struggles, he still managed to give the biggest smile and say that life was good.
He was selfless and often times lonely, but he was a rock. He kept pushing forward despite the shit that came his way. He gave love and he showed love. In my opinion he lived a great life and I am honored to have known him. I am sad I will never get to see that amazing smile again. I will rely on the photos in my head to keep his memory alive, just like all those who have passed before him and left indelible waves on my heart.
Tom you will be greatly missed and I am honored that I was able to know you for a brief but lasting moment. I love you...Rest in peace my great friend.
Until next time....