Thursday, 13 February 2014

Thom's Tree

Thom's tree

Trees are soothing. When I feel sad or suffer from writer's block, I go for a walk in the park. That's the reason why I love London's parks. Somehow, seeing trees appeases me. I like the sound of the wind in the branches, and I also like the fact that trees will always stand, whatever the season, as if they could survive anything. In the blogosphere, I have met another tree lover, Thom Brown. We belong to the same group, PBAUs (Personal Bloggers Are Us). Thom loves trees so much that he took a picture of the same tree from his office's window every day over the last few years. You can see the results here

Thom passed away last Sunday. Despite the fact that I had never met him in person, I am grief stricken. I feel a bit ridiculous too: Thom leaves a wife, two daughters and a grandson. I can't start to imagine what they must be going through. Who am I to feel sad? Do I even have the right to feel sad? Probably not.



Thom was a psychology teacher in Utica College. He had faced many health issues (in his own words 'they beat the crap out of my body'), but despite this he often ended his posts with an upbeat 'I am a fortunate man'. He never complained. He never indulged in self-pity. He always had a kind word for each of us, and made a point of reading all my posts. He was sending me words of encouragement at every possible opportunity. Thom just understood what we were writing, and was happy when I was eventually published in a national magazine. But he would also have told me to continue even if I hadn't. Because that's who he was: supportive and deeply human. I also loved his eclectic posts and his sense of humour. I knew that he had been sick but somehow thought that it was all over, and that he would go on for ever.

Well, I was wrong. Now I regret not going to visit him when I went to New York City. And I have learned that there is no such thing as online grief. Silly me.

I am also left with a sense of unfinished business. I had one thing to tell him, and I never did. It was:

Thank you, Thom

It is dark and rainy in London, but I need a walk  right now.

25 comments:

  1. I feel the same way Muriel. We "knew" him as part of a group. We grieve.

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  2. I know, I'm also left with the feeling…..did I ever truly tell him what he meant to me? And I'm afraid the answer is I did not, which leaves me with regret. You always think you have time to tell people these things. I guess the time is always now. Do it now.

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    1. So right, Marie, so right. Somehow we think we are going to last forever, but we are wrong.

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  3. I have known Tommy for most of my life -- ever since elementary school. He touched a lot of people, far more than most, and yet, I have never known anyone with whom he crossed paths that did not love him. Your kind thoughts are greatly appreciated, and they are NOT too late. I'm certain that out there in cyberspace somewhere, he is reading every word.

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    1. Thank you for this comment, Charlie. I really hope that he is. Words fail me. My condolences to his family and friends, old and new.

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  4. Yes it's strange how we tend to think that people just go on forever, I think especially for virtual friends. However, I believe that we are all entitled to grieve. We feel what we feel and we must all honor that. And I think that's a sure testament to how valuable the person was/is; that even if we never met him personally, he still affected our lives deeply enough to make his absence matter. Hugs to you and I think all of us will really never look at trees the same way again.

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    1. Hugs to you, Joy. I still can't believe it!

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  5. I'm sorry to hear this Muriel. We Bloggers are a community and while some (such as you and I) know each other well and in person there is a real sense of community and common purpose that we have something to say, represent the zeitgeist, represent freedom FROM the press and create he trends which push the world forward in a wonderfully organic and creative way.

    Thom whose eccentric (I mean that as a compliment!) I shared and enjoyed certainly believed in the regenerative power of the internet and Blogs and the couple of times he left comments for me mean a lot more now. When you are a Blogger your journey does not finish at a time like this for you have left a bigger footprint behind.

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    1. You are right. I thought that blogging was just a hobby, but it became so much more than this! And even if I haven't met all the blogger I interact with, we are friends.

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  6. And his friends, students and colleagues have bedecked his Tree with a ton of royal blue ribbons. She is sparkling in the snow!

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    1. Thank you for this comment, Linnea, it put a smile on my face.

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    2. I would love to see a picture!

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  7. I echo your sentiments. We all feel grief for our online friend, Thom. For three years he gave us weekly insights into his life, shared his tree with us, and taught us wisdom, understanding, and humour.

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    1. Thanks, Penelope. There is no such thing as online grief, and I feel lost for words.

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  8. So sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, Muriel. In this day and age there are so many types of friends and even though you never met, of course you will feel his loss. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and no rules about who is allowed to feel sad or miss someone. You were fortunate to have him in your life - he sounds like a wonderful support and an interesting person.

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    1. He was, Flora, he was. Somehow I thought that he would continue forever. How very silly of me.

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  9. Good morning Muriel. May I share some of your words at his memorial service (with proper attribution of course)?

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    1. Of course you may. I would be honoured. It will make me feel as if I were with you. Take care.

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  10. This is so very sad. I have read his posts and commented on them. Thank you for the lovely comments.

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    1. Thank you Carol. I thought that the on-line world would protect me from grief but it didn't. How naive of me.

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  11. He does, indeed, sound like a very courageous and special man. Interesting how we form these friendships now through the internet. He has given much to many just by his attitude. Solemn but good and meaningful post Muriel!

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    1. Thank you Carolina. I really feel sad about this.

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  12. He sounds like the kind of person that enhances the lives of those who met him.

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    1. That's exactly what he was, Jenny. He had this amazing capacity of touching lives.

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