When my daughter Layla was very young she came home from school one day and told me that one of her classmates had 2 mommies. I said, “Well honey, not everyone has the same sexual orientation as Daddy and I.” They tell parents to ‘give it a name and keep it simple.’ So I did. “Those 2 mommies are lesbians. It’s all good. Love is Love." (I could have said “gay” or “LBGTQ” but that would have spawned more questions to which she wasn’t ready for answers.)
Soon after that, Tommy Page, or “Little T.” (as I had, in a big sisterly-like fashion, affectionately called him since we met, came to visit me in Los Angeles. Layla spent some time with him. I told her how far back we went…how special he was.
When we received Tommy’s holiday card later that year, with the beautiful photograph of him and his partner Charlie, and their children, Layla let me know she retained something I told her: she trotted over with the card in hand and said, “Mama, Tommy’s a lesbian!”
"Not exactly, honey. But you've got the right idea."
When I shared that story with Tommy, he busted out laughing. That’s how I remember him. Smiling Laughing Happy. All the time.
‘I heard the news today, Oh boy’ via text from a mutual friend. I was in Desert Hot Springs for the weekend, mineral pool hopping…taking a break from social media, politics, clearing my head, listening to the quiet. I didn’t ask for the details. What did they matter? He was gone. Heaven has another angel.
What causes a Smiling Laughing Happy person to take their life? Outwardly, optically, all Tommy’s dreams appeared to have come true.
I didn’t feel like I could let go just yet. The Inn where I was staying asks all guests for silence, and sobbing would have definitely disturbed the peace. So I’d breath deeply. I’d go to that yoga class and at the end I’d lay in Savasana and softly remember him. But I’d wait until Monday to cry.
I met Tommy when he was 18. He knocked on the door of my NYC apartment. I was a budding songwriter who at the time, had only one song recorded and released. Tommy was a fan of that song and he hunted me down so we could write another.
He was a pretty boy with Elvis sex appeal…an excitable, positive, determined, lovable pop song junkie with an unblinking belief in himself. He was like that little boy from “The Alchemist”—the one who had a vision he believed in so strongly it caused the Universe to jump into the current and conspire with him to make it all happen. Indeed the Universe ushered him to the place he wanted to go because he got his record deal, went on to have some big hits, became a pop star with huge success overseas. He came out. Partnered up. Had 3 children about whom he kvelled in an eloquently written yearly recap folded inside that holiday card. His was the one I most looked forward to reading.
Tommy was a friend to just about everybody. He was one off those guys that nobody didn’t like. A cheerleader for his fellow dreamers. A reinventor of himself time after time. A Survivor. Until now.
There’s another side to Smiling Laughing Happy people, that we rarely see through the lens of social media. If life appears too perfect it's probably not. Maybe those are the friends we should check in with more often. That said, when someone takes drastic measures to do what they feel they must do, we’re not always being fair to ourselves if we think there was something we could have done to stop them. I wish that weren’t true. Cuz there were so many people who loved Tommy, we surely would have locked arms, formed an unbreakable protective circle around him and tried our best.
I said I’d wait until Monday to cry.
Well it’s Monday.