Tom was celebrating his birthday on Saturday night, as usual, with a party at his apartment on Waverly Place. It was a pretty low-key event by Tom's standards. Usually his parties are packed with tons of people, but this one was fairly mellow--maybe 10 people total. Dan and I hung out on the couches, had a few drinks and then left around one in the morning. About an hour later, Tom decided to fool around with a fire extinguisher and shoot at some unsuspecting people walking on the street. He went on the fire escape, lost his balance and fell six stories to the ground. The ambulance came right away, but it was too late. He didn't make it.
We heard about Tom the next morning, and now, even 24 hours after hearing the news, I still can't process it. How could this happen? Being one of Dan's poker buddies, Tom definitely became an important part of our social circle in recent years and we saw him all the time. How could Tom be gone, and in such a crazy way?
I never met anyone like Tom before. He was raised in Texas, and he prided himself to be a Southern gentleman. He was incredibly courteous and gracious in an over the top way, always giving compliments and doling gifts and going out of his way to make everyone happy. He loved to host parties and treat his friends to dinner. He was the one who took us out to The Yacht Club to celebrate our engagement and had a hand in organizing many gatherings and celebrations, including Dan's birthday at Peter Luger steakhouse.
A true romantic, he was planning to move to Paris this summer. He told me the night of his party that he wanted to go there and fall in love with a french girl. That was the sort of thing Tom would say with complete sincerity. He would tell me all the time how much he admired my relationship with Dan, and anytime he would come over our apartment and I would cook dinner for us, he would act like it was the most amazing thing in the world. The next day, he would always write me a thank you note. He was a very classy guy.
He loved weddings and asked about mine constantly. That night, as he often did before, he told me how he wanted to help out the day of the event, whatever I needed him to do, even if it was picking up our guests at the airport. Dan and I had talked about how we would ask Tom to help out, and last night, when I considered for the first time that Tom wouldn't be there, dressed in his seersucker suit and his signature flip flops (the ones he wore both summer and winter), I finally cried for the first time.
This morning, I found his email invite to the party in my in-box:
march 6th marks the anniversary of the fall of the alamo. where 186 brave texians died after a collective YEE-HAW was said.
it is also my birthday. please prepare your wits, liver, and regret for an epic party. for it will be my last in new york, as I intend to move to paris this summer.
we will drink at waverly for most of the night, and may head to highlands bar at 150 west 10th street if we get bored around midnight.
p.s. as a random side note, my notary stamp expires on march 13, 2010. it would be hilarious if anyone brought documents for me to sign at said party.
We never made it to the Highlands and as far as I know, no one brought anything to sign.
When Dan and I were leaving the party, Tom gave me a box of Italian candy he bought on a recent trip in Rome (he always remembered my sweet tooth), and shoved an entire bottle of Jaigermeister in Dan's hands to take home, just because. Tom walked us to the door, and Dan asked him if they would be playing poker as usual on Tuesday. "We'll talk about it tomorrow at the Oscar party," Tom called down the stairs. That was the last we heard from him.
Tom, on his recent trip to Italy.
I can't believe you're gone. We'll miss you.