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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Mathai

Eulogy for Tomas

Updated: Aug 11, 2018

St. Joseph's Chapel, Kent School, Kent, CT

Thank you all so much for being here. My brother would be so proud to see so many of his favorite faces from the present and past here in one of his most sacred places. I chose to have his celebration here at Kent as it was probably the happiest period of his life. Full of good health, best friends, bucolic surrounds and the brightest of futures.

I don’t know if many of you realize that today is the Epiphany. I won’t go into the biblical meaning, but I think that the Epiphany is the perfect day for us to celebrate my brother Tomas because the journey that we just went down together was full of them. There were so many revelations, but I wanted to share a few of these with you today.

First, I think many of you may agree that my brother was a badass. Besides the fact that he was my older brother that I idolized as a kid, he was my teacher in many ways. He was the one that introduced me to classic rock music, the Beatles, the Cure and the Clash. Then came the love for New York baseball. Yet I think he taught me most about bravery...he was pretty amazing when it came to this Tumor business. Although I was always on the sidelines for him when he needed me, my bro primarily took his health advocacy into his own hands. He single-handedly assembled the most outstanding team of neurosurgeons across the country from Duke, Memorial Sloan Kettering and UCSF to consult on his case and would turn down their medical advice pretty consistently, which is why I believe that we are sitting here after 19.5 years after his diagnosis instead of at the 5 or 10-year mark. That takes gumption and guts.

Also, I don’t know many people that would complain so little and take his treatments so stoically and bravely. Every three months for 19 years, he showed up at every MRI and appointment with a smile and a joke and asked for a martini and a nurse’s phone number in the recovery room after each of the four surgeries he’d undergone. Like I said badass!

My second light bulb came from all of you. Boy, was my brother popular. I knew Tomas had lots of buddies, but when things went south, and I sent out the bat signal, so many of you showed up and showed the love. All of you who came out to visit or sent care packages or gave him a simple call meant so much to both us. The smile he gave when folks visited, filled the room with pure joy. Many of you witnessed our antics; our comedy act in the bathroom, the mumbling skit at the kitchen table trying to get him to swallow his darn pills and finally his laughing at me at my ridiculous attempts to be a nurse and caregiver. It absolutely helped to have extra hands on deck and have support, be it for just a little while. I especially need to send a big shout out to the Kent Community. A huge thanks to Father Schell and the school for hosting us today and to my brothers’ classmates. I honestly feel like I’ve been adopted by the Kent class of 1986. You guys were especially amazing. My brother gave me the gift of these meaningful new friendships that I hope will endure the test of time as his memory will.

The third epiphany came to me as we approached the last few months of his life. We had so many fantastic hospice volunteers come through. Greg used to sit with me for a while after his reiki session with Tomas. We’d talk about life and spirituality. One day, after a session, he said “I get it now. After hearing your stories and spending time with you both, I see it. You two are soulmates." At first, I giggled, thinking, yeah, right. After a day of pondering his statement, it clicked. He was right. Connected for many lifetimes in our different forms by the single thread of the universe, I understood why this was happening the way it was. We were soulmates. It is only in the capacity as a soulmate, can one find the tenacity and compassion to be selfless and truly care for one with heart. I found these last months to be my greatest and most important work. I was never more challenged or more present. Witnessing my brother’s transformation in the last year was beautiful. As his body began its decline, it seems as if his genuine personality and soul shined so very brightly. The great poet Rumi said, “If your heart is full of light it will help you to see the path that will lead you right back home to me. "Tomas left us as a pure soul full of light humility, gratitude, and even much hope.”

Having said this, I have a little New Year’s homework for you guys. When you remember Tomas don’t just think of his killer smile that filled the room, his snarky remarks and debates on libertarian economics, or love of the big sails and big martinis, but also remember to use his memory as inspiration and reminder to TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. Just show up for the ones you love, and you won’t regret it! Really what is more important than that.”

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