On February 22, my friend Tom LeVine called as he was driving in San Jose headed to Ojai, California. Tom was the CEO of Pop!Tech and one of my dearest and most wonderful friends in my life. Tom had had a series of meetings in Silicon Valley, and was headed to Ojai to see his parents. Tom talked about how well the meetings had gone, and mentioned in passing that he had eaten sushi the night before (sushi being his favorite dish), and said that it must have been bad sushi, but as he said, when he got to Ojai, his mother would tuck him in and feed him some chicken soup, and life would be good again .
Saturday night, 57 days later, Tom died of Glioblastoma at age 56.
He died quietly, surrounded by women who loved him, his wife Valerie, his mother Joyce and his sister Lizabeth. His wonderful children Chloe and Remy were also at his bedside.
When I was first told of the diagnosis, I did some quick research, only to learn that if the diagnosis was correct, that Tom had won the lottery, only the wrong one. I waited anxiously for a confirmation that the diagnosis was incorrect only to learn that it was. Only 2-3 cases exist per 100,000 people in America.
Then I learned that Tom was being moved home, as there was nothing more that could be done.
I immediately made plans to go to his home in Maine to see him.
The morning I arrived, Tom was lying in a hospital bed. He was very frail, but when he learned that I had arrived, he reached up and hugged me. Moments later, a mechanic arrived to change his hospital bed. I realized that Tom would need to be moved. And then I realized that my purpose in life was to be there at that moment, to carefully lift my friend, first to move him to a day bed, and then to gently move him back.
Over the course of the next five days I spent about 15 hours at his bed side, and during that time it seemed that perhaps he was conscious of my presence for perhaps 30 minutes. By the second day I was Maine, the women in his life, his wife, mother and sister, had completely taken over. And he was surrounded by loving women. The image I will forever have in mind is that of Christ being taken down from the cross, and bathed and prepared for burial by the women in his life.
On another day, when I arrived to sit at his bedside, his mother told him I was there. He spoke, and told his mother about our friendship, and of a wonderful time we had had, and then drifted off. I told him that I loved him, and I am sure he heard me.
It was as if he was saying good bye to me, as he was not conscious again while I was there.
Each day since I have prayed for Tom, I have prayed for those caring for him.
This morning, which was cold, gray, and raining, I awoke thinking about Tom. Moments later I got a call from Tom's great friend Alex Hyman telling me of Tom's death. We spoke briefly, sharing stories of our times Tom.
In our lives, we have regrets, as for my time with Tom, I have but one. We had planned to go skiing this winter, and we didn't. In my mind and in my dreams, Tom will be flying down the best of God’s mountains, And one day we will meet up and ski together.
Each day I will miss him, I will miss our time together, our conversations, laughing and talking. My only regret will be that we didn’t have even more fun.
One of the persons that I wrote to about Tom, wrote me back, “Life is precious, and time is short…”