Dear Father Tom,
It has been two years since you have gone. So much has changed. There is so much I wish that I could talk to you about. Oh, I suspect I know what you would say about just about everything. Perhaps it is best that I can only hear you in my thoughts. The world is not the same. I am not the same.
I miss you. I can still hear the slight laugh in that soft, raspy voice of yours, I still see the twinkle in your eyes, the smile on your face. Man, I used to enjoy our conversations so dearly. You would wait for me, after I (or we) served liturgy at the monastery. We would talk for a few hours at a time about anything. You were engaging, kind and pastoral. It was such a joy for me. I was glad and honored to be in your company.
I miss you. I miss your insights, your keen sense of things. I so admire the fact that you were not afraid to engage tough issues, challenging topics. You did not put walls up, nor did you hide behind false bravados, facades or some weak triumphalism. You knew your foundation, your faith, your Lord; your faith was firm, and you did not need to justify it to anyone. Yet you were willing to be with people who were not like you, who did not share your views, who had opposing viewpoints, who were sinners, who were alien. Like Christ eating with tax collectors and sinners, you treated everyone the same, from the poorest to the most powerful, as all bearing the image of God, all worthy of God’s love.
I miss you. Today we need people of your caliber, of your voice, of your daring, of your willingness to talk to and be with people who are different than ourselves. We need your voice to proclaim liberation to the captive, to exalt the humble and to humble the exalted. We need your reminder that the before the joy of resurrection the cross looms; that beyond the suffering of the cross the resurrection awaits.
Oh, I miss you. For these things and more. For the times we spent, for the meals we shared, for the times I helped you with your computer, and for the times you helped me in innumerable ways. For our friendship.
That, my deeply respected, dear brother and concelebrant, is ultimately at the center of it all. So I shall say to you the very last words that you said to me before you passed from this life: Thank you, Fr. Tom, for being my friend.