Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thomas Tileston Wells

Today it's been five years since my dear friend Ty passed away. I truly don't understand where the time goes. I was trying to think of something new to say today, but the words I spoke at his funeral still make the most sense to me as a tribute, so here they are.

My name is Jennifer and I was Ty's roommate for a year in Greenwich, CT while he was working in New York City. First of all, I would like to thank Ty's mom, Katie, for inviting me to tell this story today. When Katie called me a couple of nights ago and asked me to speak, I was honored. Almost immediately after I hung up the phone, I started to panic about what I would say. There are no words to adequately express the emotions we have all felt in the past two weeks. There is nothing I can say to make all of this disappear and go back to the way it was. I can only hope that sharing my favorite memories with all of you will help, in some small way, to ease the pain in our hearts.

I met Ty in July of 2002. From the moment I met him, I felt as if I had known him for ages. Talking to Ty was easy. He could walk into a room and pick anyone out of the crowd, strike up a conversation, and by the end of the night, Ty had made a new friend. Several of you are probably here because of a situation just like that. He forged connections with people all over the country. Those connections are not lost. They have brought all of us together today. They are our connections now. This is how Ty would have wanted it. After today, when all is said and done, he wants us to learn more about each other... to become genuinely interested in each other's lives, as he was genuinely interested in all of ours.

I had the privilege of spending this past Wednesday night with Shannon, Ty's girlfriend. We talked, laughed, cried, and reminisced for hours over two glasses of red wine. Several times during the night, both Shannon and myself commented that it was almost as if Ty was sitting right there with us. He is a presence that can be felt, even now. The most beautiful words Shannon spoke that night were, "Ty is teaching us so much." Truer words were never spoken. Since Ty's passing, I have seen changes in the way I have conducted my life, in the way Ty's other friends are making the important things their priorities. We are realizing that money and job titles and cars and expensive clothes are useless. What Ty had was priceless... a genuine love of life and of all the little things that make life so good. He was happy in an armchair playing XBox on a snowy December day. He was happy cooking dinner for his roommates any night of the week. He enjoyed being with good people and taking it all in. He loved watching the news in the morning and the Simpsons at night. He loved his music. Never once did I hear him complain that his life was lacking anything. He was content, happy and free no matter where he was or what he was doing.

Ty and I had a brother/sister kind of relationship. He was really the only brother I've ever had. A few days before Ty was to move to Hawaii, he stopped by my new apartment to say goodbye. We talked for hours, just like Shannon and I did the other night. After a few cold beers and lots of reminiscing, Ty stood up to leave. The last words he spoke to me were, "You've been good for me, girl." With Ty around, it was often easy to forget that I actually had a real name. For a year, I thought my name was "Girl." "You've been good for me, girl...." Looking back on those words now, I'm honored that Ty believed I brought something special into his life, whatever that may have been. Looking back now, I see how much he has taught me about life, about relationships, and about how the little things add up to the big things.

Ty loved his family. He loved his girlfriend. He loved his friends and his free time. He lived a short but full life, and his legacy is us. His personality and vibrancy are not lost forever. We have all been touched by Ty. We are all of us changed, for the better, for having known him. In Ty's words... "he's been good for us." Now, the best gift we can give Ty and his family... is to be good for each other.

I would like to read the following on behalf of one of Ty’s dearest friends. The words of this song, “Brokedown Palace” by the Grateful Dead, have brought comfort to many of Ty’s friends over the last couple of weeks…

"Broke-down Palace"
Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia
Fare you well my honey
Fare you well my only true one
All the birds that were singing
Have flown except you alone
Goin to leave this Broke-down Palace
On my hands and my knees I will roll roll roll
Make myself a bed by the waterside
In my time - in my time - I will roll roll roll
In a bed, in a bed
by the waterside I will lay my head
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul
River gonna take me
Sing me sweet and sleepy
Sing me sweet and sleepy
all the way back back home
It's a far gone lullaby
sung many years ago
Mama, Mama, many worlds I've come
since I first left home
Goin home, goin home
by the waterside I will rest my bones
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul
Goin to plant a weeping willow
On the banks green edge it will grow grow grow
Sing a lullaby beside the water
Lovers come and go - the river roll roll roll
Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul

Ty, we love you and we miss you.


Anonymous said...

This brings me back to that time....always remember the cardinal looking over us...
Jen-read this beautiful passage and realize where you belong in life

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