Within us all lives an enigma
Often not fully realized until our deaths.
It tells us more about ourselves
Than any deliberation experienced in our lives.
The enigma was always there with Tom, but it only became transparent on the day they buried his body in the ground. Speakers came up to the front of the service and delivered words about him. First came his friends and the people he worked with. Being in the field of entertainment and the arts, the collection of people who came to honor him on this day was a most interesting group. They told others how Tom had inspired them and encouraged them towards success in their chosen fields. Others told how Tom was like a magnet of kindness whose door was open to anyone. We knew, for he had opened his home to us two months ago to allow us to shoot an experimental television show there. His door was always open to us and he made sure we knew. So many others told similar tales. It placed an almost angelic glow around Tom's name.
Then came the other side of the coin. His family, most of which lived in the northern part of the United States while Tom lived in Florida, came forward to speak. To them, Tom was a man they hardly knew. His two ex-wives were there as well as his son and grandson. With tears in his eyes, Tom's son told the people gathered for his father's funeral that he wished he could have known his father the way they did. These were images of the father he never knew being painted on the stage before him. He knew his father as a distant man he rarely spoke to and almost never saw.
When it came to relationships with people, Tom and I had quite a bit in common. We were open to embrace all manner of people and to do all we could for them. It was easy for him to love people and for him to be loved in return. Yet, when the love became a responsibility and a requirement rather than an adventure, the loss of appeal felt like a jagged wound. To ride is always easy, but to stay is very difficult. There is a huge chasm between wanting to do something and having to do it. I struggle with it every day and so did he. Yet a part of me wonders if maybe people aren't meant to be all things to the people in their lives and maybe some of us are not meant to focus in one direction. Perhaps we are the adventurers who must embrace the champagne of life at every crossing. We are the ones who must always be open to what the road ahead brings, no matter what the cost. It is our way. Others must have the stability and the responsibility of a set course in life. Maybe we spend too much time concerning ourself with perceived faults and trying to correct them than we do realizing that not everyone can excel in all areas of life. Is it better to be fair to mediocre at all things and get passing grades or is it better to do your best with what you are best at?
A friend and I were going to attend the funeral but were not able due to a schedule conflict with our jobs. We were able to rendezvous later with those who had attended. We went to the bar where Tom liked to hang out. His family sat at one end of the room and his friends and co-workers on the other. My friend and I sat together mid-way between the two groups. His family sat quietly, talking amongst themselves and sadly remembering what they could of the man who was husband, father, brother, uncle. His friends and co-workers laughed and drank, toasting to the memory of a man who would have done the same had any of them left this place. They did it the way Tom would have and that seemed to offend his family because they never really understood him. When the table of friends ordered a round of Glenlivet and we did the same, his family looked on and shook their heads. It was Tom's drink of choice and it was a kind of communion with him.
A life can be lived to the fullest. A life can be lived quietly. It can be lived according to a standardized format. A life can be filled with sorrow and regret. In the end it is still a life that was lived and that is all that really matters. Your ship has some of the strongest sails on the seas and it will sail far and wide on the oceans of our dreams. Farewell, fellow adventurer. Clear skies ahead, Tom.