September 2006

To: Tom
From: Jan
Date: September 2, 2006

Tom,

I enjoy your updates and emails so much. They are more than just ďnews from home,Ē which I might add is precious indeed. I continue to pray for you.

Jan

To: Jane, Eric, Aaron
From: Paul
Date: Sept, 19, 2006

I wanted to call each of you but this method is quicker - I'll call both of you as soon as I can.

I got a call from Tom late last night.

3 days ago he had a PET scan as well as a lung Xray.

The cancer has spread very quickly and now involves his entire lung. In addition it has metastasized to his side and spinal cord which is causing problems with his left leg. He is now having difficulty walking.

His physician was visibly shocked at how quickly the disease had spread.

In short, he has very little time left - probably weeks, not months.

I don't know what my plans are yet. I talked to Jane last night for a couple of hours. We're going to wait for a few days to see what Tom's plans are - He's got some idea of having a final "party" in Hawaii with as many family and friends as can come. I can't see that this is realistic but I'm not going to argue with him at this point.

He has been working on final arrangements and has many things covered but I have some concerns that I will talk to him about.

I'll be home this evening - probably out of the house for a walk between 6:30 and 7:30

To: Tom
From: Bro
Date: September 19, 2006

Got this from Leah, my Staff Development Specialist.
I asked her to cover a training session for me this afternoon because I'm having a bit of a time staying focused. I briefly explained why I needed her to cover.


Paul,
I am really sorry.
I don't know what or how you believe, but I just want you to know that I will remember your brother, as well as you and everyone else in the family in my prayers. I believe in prayer for healing and for comfort.
Leah


Love,
Bro

To: Bro
From: Tom
Date: September 20, 2006

Thanks for the info, these are the inputs I needed from you. Now I know what to look into. I want to be sure that nobody gets stuck with any legal problems or complications. I'm going for a scan and probably won't be back here tonight, but I'll be in touch soon. If you come up with any other suggestions or ideas, keep them coming. Love you brother,
Tom

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul
To: Tom
Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 10:14 AM


 >Brother,

> I talked to Jane last night for a couple of hours and I've been doing  a lot >of thinking. I have some concerns about your final arrangements. I don't >know what the California laws are - I do know that when a person passes >in PA without a will, the state takes over. CA probably has an estate tax >that has to be paid. The tax is not only on money but also on >possessions. I had to estimate the value of all of Dad's household >possessions including car, furniture, -everything. The tax wasn't much >but it had to be paid.

>Here's my main concern. Without the proper process it is very possible >that ____________, if you name them (or imply) anywhere that they will >act as administrators or executors they could get stuck with a tax bill >especially if the state finds out that there were items (e.g. tools, vehicles, >etc, etc.) that could have been sold to pay the tax. I think, but I'm not sure, >that there is a time limitation in transferring things that could be >considered part of an estate. In other words, doing a transfer of >possessions at the last minute may not work.

>There are a number of "lawyer type" websites you can get information >from that is specific to CA laws. The one thing that is free and clear of >all taxes and restrictions is life insurance.

> If you can, do a little research to make sure that things are taken care >of in the way that you want them to be.

> BTW, I started with the same process last week. I got my will re-written >and am now working on arrangements and designating a few things >that I want certain people to get.

> This is not a pleasant task or prospect but its one that everyone of  us >has to face.

> I love you,
>Bro

To: Family & Closest Friends
From: Tom
Subject: new development
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2006

Not everyone has their own email address, so I am addressing this to all concerned. Those of you who receive this are responsible for relaying it to those listed below who cannot.

George/Paul, Sheila, Jane, Tom, Eric, Aaron, Tracy, Rhiannon, Timmy (Emma as discussed with Timmy), Todd, Sandy, Gail and Tim, Gary and Jenny, Duke, Pamela, Josh, Helena and Jeffery.

To my family and dearest friends,

When I was diagnosed with lung cancer in January, I was overwhelmed with emotions that I had to find a way to express and understand. I have always found that I communicate my feelings better and more accurately through the written word than through speech, certainly due to the ability to revise and reorder what is being said and because of the ability to limit the amount that raw emotions are allowed interfere with clear thought.

I had a PET scan scheduled for mid-September. The hoped for result was that a 1 cm sized tumor at the original site would have disappeared, which would qualify me for cranial radiation procedures, the final step of treatments which, it was hoped, would provide slightly improved odds for 5 year survival and improved quality of life.

Over the last three weeks, I have been experiencing a succession of painful, and not clearly related symptoms such as an unexplained heaviness in the chest, a sudden painful inability to fully control my right foot and cramps that seem to spread down the length of my spinal column. These symptoms have been preventing me from getting adequate sleep, leading to confusion and disturbing nightmares. I went in to see my primary physician, Dr. Moreno, who had me get an immediate PET scan and x-ray. Then he, my dear friend Dave Cooper and I viewed the image and read the PET scan report together at the same moment, for the first time. The result of that scan came as a complete surprise to all of us. In the course of the last two months, my condition had changed from a slowly improving one to a very aggressive one. Dr. Moreno had no prior opportunity to prepare for the results and he was visible shaken as he attempted to interpret it for me. What was obvious to me at first sight was that I was looking at the image of a non-functioning left lung, very different from the image I had seen only a couple of months prior. What should have appeared as a clear airbag now appears to be either completely collapsed or completely filled with milky fluid. The written report indicates that there are many small growths, or tumors, spreading from the base of my brain to near the bottom of my spinal column, which explains the pain and loss of motor controls in my right foot. He can offer no explanation for the sudden, aggressive and dramatic turn of events, only that medical science does not understand it either. Seeing Dr. Morenoís unrehearsed reaction was like shining a beacon on the undiluted truth. Medical science has nothing more to offer but experimentation, and to my mind, that is out of the question. Alternative treatments may work in some cases, but they are unproven and come with a cost. I will not be a guinea pig in a vain attempt to simply exist a while longer.

As you might imagine, my initial reaction to the scan and report was of shock, tears and disbelief. How could it be otherwise? I had a nagging doubt that all of this was happening solely due to the cancer. I wanted to believe that there was another explanation and spent the last two days in extreme frustration trying to contact both Dr. Moreno and Dr. Wang (my oncologist) to give me 5 minutes of their time for confirmation. If you have never tried to make personal contact with a physician from within the confines of an HMO/PPO organization, you do not know what frustration truly is. But Iíve expressed in previous emails the level of confidence Iíve gained in my doctors over the course of the treatments and they proved it to be well-founded. Each of them called me at home, personally to answer my questions and assure me that they are there to assist me in any way they can to give me as much mobility and remain as pain free as possible.

As I slowly absorb and consider the news, I am beginning to see it in a different, a much more favorable light, and I hope I can share this view with you. The most difficult part of the process has been the continuing uncertainty of my situation while in the control of the medical community. I was being controlled by a set of medical procedures which were designed to attempt to cure me of an incurable disease. It had the effect of reducing my life expectancy to a set of statistics. This new development removes those restrictions and places my fate where it belongs, in my own hands or in the realm of a miracle. While my scientific nature forced me to comply with the restrictions and rules of medical procedures, a miracle by its very definition is beyond my control and I do not feel compelled to pursue one nor expect one and I am free to focus my attention on enjoying every remaining moment of my life in any way I see fit. What a wonderful sense of release and freedom!

The greatest fear I have been facing was a loss of control over my own suffering and the inability to decide for myself when it may be ended. I am now able to enter a humanitarian based hospice care program which again places my fate in my own hands. I know that I will not have to endure an unacceptable level of pain and I will have the ability to decide exactly when that level has been reached. Once again, what a sense of relief!

I expect that more psychological changes will come into play as I proceed toward inevitable death, but I want you all to know that I recognize many wonderful opportunities for which I feel incredibly fortunate, and that has a natural, intrinsic value that contributes to an overall sense of peace that I am currently experiencing. I am going to speak in terms of the end of my own life here. Understand that this is not to indicate that I have given up on living any longer or that Iím immediately ready to call an end to my own life. Actually, Iím conjuring up some wonderful plans which I truly believe I will have a chance to realize, and I hope will directly involve each of you.

But I also want you to understand that I am already older than I ever expected to be, and at this moment I am at a level physical discomfort and disability that I find less than satisfactory. I hope to tap the medical bag of tricks enough to get past a few of these problems enough to maintain my enthusiasm to fulfill these dreams, but if everything went to hell right now and I felt that I could not tolerate another day, I can find no reason in my soul to feel cheated. I feel I have been blessed and I feel totally at peace with my life. What more do any of you wish for your own life?

I have lived my life somewhat differently than many of you have. I have always hoped that I was right in many of my assumptions and beliefs, but I knew that what really mattered could only be judged in crystal clarity when viewed from the far end of my life, a view that is only now being presented to me. Here are some things that are passing under this very unique magnifying glass which is now in my possession.

I made a decision some time ago that I did not wish to have children, and underwent a vasectomy about ten years ago, but I have never known if I would still find that to be the best decision in the end. While I do not feel that it would be the correct decision for anyone else, I know with absolute certainty that it was correct for me, and I find great relief that concern for the welfare of my offspring does not have to enter into any decisions I make at this time. I have learned from both family and friends that I have indeed made an impression in the lives of their own children, and that some aspect of myself will be endure in their life and be passed again, as interpreted through their own beliefs, to their children, and I find that to be fully satisfying.

Several of my California friends have commented on the undeniable glow that I returned with from the recent visit with my family. Although I have spent one half of my total life, essentially all of my adult life, living on the other side of the continent from them, it did not feel to me to have diminished my love for any of them. My separation was due entirely to climatic conditions (temperature) necessary to my happiness and enforced by financial inadequacies and the requirements of life and in no way indicated any negative feelings for them personally. My actions may not have been understood by everyone involved at all times, but I returned to California knowing that I am loved and that my family understands that they are, and will always be, my family and my greatest source of pride.

I have never felt driven to achieve goals, accumulate wealth or status or power, or Ďto make anything of myselfí. My greatest wish has been limited to being a happy person and to be able to look back at my life and feel satisfied. Over my lifetime Iíve came to understand that an important ingredient to being happy was having a few friends who enjoyed my company and I theirs. Some of my closest friends have expressed that each of them feel that not only am I a happy person in my own mind, that happiness spills over enough that they find me to be an easy, enjoyable person to be around. I have been able to help make their life a little happier.

I am not an extremely social individual and rarely seek to add to my contacts list. Never the less, Iíve discovered that I have inadvertently accumulated a very satisfying number of good, close friends as well as a gratifying amount of acquaintances who express good feelings for me and enjoy my company, and an acceptable percentage of professional associates who freely express a respect for me. This may be insufficient to get me elected president of anything, but it is all that I have ever hoped for or aspired to.

The essential ingredients that comprise a good life are, naturally, very personal and what I find satisfying may represent a dismal existence for someone else. The beauty of the end-view is that it is only my own judgment of my own life that matters, and I am completely at peace.

AS FOR THE PLAN

When I began the treatment process, it looked for a while as if I would be able to fulfill my dream of retiring in Hawaii for a few years to comfortably await the inevitable. I looked forward to visits from each of you over time, so that I could share the beauty and peace of the most special place I have ever been. That would have made it possible for everyone to plan to come own their own time, but also necessary for everyone to be able to afford to do it. This turn of events has removed that possibility, but it has presented in its place a much more unique opportunity.

By the oddest and most amusing set of circumstances, I have reached this point in my life not destitute, as I always expected to be, but with more cash than is necessary to cover my final expenses. Lotís more, actually. Enough, I believe, to throw one hell of a nice party in Hawaii for those who are nearest and dearest to me. I want to be able to provide airfare, lodging, cars and food for everyone, so that you may all come and help me celebrate my life with me in the way Iíve tried to live it, and I believe it is possible!! (I told you Iím the luckiest person I know)

I would like to do this beginning October 15, with plans to keep it rolling for a minimum of 1 week, and fully expect to be able to party on for 2 weeks (Oct 28). You are free to come for 1 weekend or the full-boat 2 weeks or however many days you can manage to get free from your normal life. What I need from each of you is to let me know when and how long you can realistically get away and join me. Arrangements will need to be made and tickets bought quickly.

DO NOT let money be your guide. I will allow for enough money to cover my expenses in all cases, barring a miracle, and any self-respecting miracle should be able to cover itself.

There will be no Last Will and Testament, only a smoking hole in the checkbook.

There will only be one chance to do this.

Pulling this off would exceed my wildest dreams. Please do your part to help me make it happen!

Love,

Tom

To: Tom
From: Bro
Date: September 21, 2006

Tom,

Just talked to Jane.

We were wondering about 2 things - one of which you are working on.
We could pay for the flight and you could reimburse while in Hawaii. We both are finding it very, very hard to let you pay for this. I got help with this from a friend at work today. He told me that this was apparently your wish, that it's something that you want to give us and that we shouldn't screw with you wishes. I hope his interpretation is correct. We are all more than a little overwhelmed with your desire to do this for us.

When we talked last night I said I would come out to Sac. but I was looking at doing it in 2 weeks. I began to check flights this morning and then got your email. I would prefer to come to CA after you return from Hawaii if that's OK with you.

The 2nd thing that Jane and I talked about was your household and personal belongings. I think you've done a great job with the plans for other aspects - have you given any thought as to how that piece can be handled. You could just turn it all over to ___________ and tell them to have an auction or yard sale.

Love ya'
Bro

To: Family
From: Tom
Date: September 21, 2006

> Since flight reservations need to be made quick, let us know how  best
> to handle. It may be best for each of us to make our own airline
> reservations else you'll spend the next several weeks as a travel
> agent trying to coordinate. Also, I think the airline requires to see the
> credit card used to book the flight (?).

I've got someone in Hawaii that is helping me arrange what I want as far as lodging, etc. I think I'll have a plan in place in a day or two. I'm hoping that I may be able to pay for a block of tickets that can be claimed by each on their own schedule. Failing that, it may be necessary for each to buy their own tickets and I will send money to reimburse you. 9/11 has made travel much less free and easy within our country. Again, I will have better info within days.

- What is the location and hotel we ultimately need to get to in Hawaii?

I want to rent a couple of large condos in Kapoho, Hawaii. That will provide several individual living units including kitchens, private bedrooms and all. It will be a beautiful, very private and remote setting that I'm sure everyone will enjoy very much. We won't have to deal with crowds of tourists and we will all be able to enjoy the real beauty of Hawaii. I will have transportation so that we are free to travel in groups of various sizes to anywhere on the island, as we wish.

- Is it best to fly into Honolulu airport?

Hilo will be the best airport.

- Since Oct 15 is a Sunday, is there any reason not to arrive on Saturday?

I'm aiming for the 15th to ensure I have time complete everything necessary on my end. I plan to be there for 2 weeks. If you all find it easier to schedule your trips for the following weekend, that's the beauty of the 2 week plan. I'm not concerned about some of the rooms being open part of the time, as long as they will be available when needed.

Again, I will let you know immediately as soon as I have the details, hopefully by the end of this week.

- Is there anything that I/we can help coordinate?

I'll let you know if there is, but I believe I've got all the help I need right now.

To: Tom
From: Aaron
Date: September 21, 2006

I will be making every effort to make this trip. I hope to get a week
off if possible. I'm not sure if we are all going to be there at the
same time or not but that's part of the beauty of the plan. I'll find
out more later tonight.
Aaron

To: Friends
From: Tom
Date: September 22, 2006

There has been a new development in my progress and unfortunately I don't know of a better way to break it to all of you. I thank you all for your support and generosity over the past year.

I had a PET scan scheduled for mid-September. The hoped for result was that a 1 cm sized tumor at the original site would have disappeared, which would qualify me for cranial radiation procedures, the final step of treatments which, it was hoped, would provide slightly improved odds for 5 year survival and improved quality of life.

Over the last three weeks, I have been experiencing a succession of painful, and not clearly related symptoms such as an unexplained heaviness in the chest, a sudden painful inability to fully control my right foot and cramps that seem to spread down the length of my spinal column. These symptoms have been preventing me from getting adequate sleep, leading to confusion and disturbing nightmares. I went in to see my primary physician, Dr. Moreno, who had me get an immediate PET scan and x-ray. Then he, my dear friend Dave Cooper and I viewed the image and read the PET scan report together at the same moment, for the first time. The result of that scan came as a complete surprise to all of us. In the course of the last two months, my condition had changed from a slowly improving one to a very aggressive one. Dr. Moreno had no prior opportunity to prepare for the results and he was visible shaken as he attempted to interpret it for me. What was obvious to me at first sight was that I was looking at the image of a non-functioning left lung, very different from the image I had seen only a couple of months prior. What should have appeared as a clear airbag now appears to be either completely collapsed or completely filled with milky fluid. The written report indicates that there are many small growths, or tumors, spreading from the base of my brain to near the bottom of my spinal column, which explains the pain and loss of motor controls in my right foot. He can offer no explanation for the sudden, aggressive and dramatic turn of events, only that medical science does not understand it either. Seeing Dr. Morenoís unrehearsed reaction was like shining a beacon on the undiluted truth. Medical science has nothing more to offer but experimentation, and to my mind, that is out of the question. Alternative treatments may work in some cases, but they are unproven and come with a cost. I will not be a guinea pig in a vain attempt to simply exist a while longer.

As you might imagine, my initial reaction to the scan and report was of shock, tears and disbelief. How could it be otherwise? I had a nagging doubt that all of this was happening solely due to the cancer. I wanted to believe that there was another explanation and spent the last two days in extreme frustration trying to contact both Dr. Moreno and Dr. Wang (my oncologist) to give me 5 minutes of their time for confirmation. If you have never tried to make personal contact with a physician from within the confines of an HMO/PPO organization, you do not know what frustration truly is. But Iíve expressed in previous emails the level of confidence Iíve gained in my doctors over the course of the treatments and they proved it to be well-founded. Each of them called me at home, personally to answer my questions and assure me that they are there to assist me in any way they can.

As I slowly absorb and consider the news, I am beginning to see it in a different, a much more favorable light, and I hope I can share this view with you. The most difficult part of the process has been the continuing uncertainty of my situation while in the control of the medical community. I was being controlled by a set of medical procedures which were designed to attempt to cure me of an incurable disease. It had the effect of reducing my life expectancy to a set of statistics. This new development removes those restrictions and places my fate where it belongs, in my own hands or in the realm of a miracle. While my scientific nature forced me to comply with the restrictions and rules of medical procedures, a miracle by its very definition is beyond my control and I do not feel compelled to pursue one nor expect one and I am free to focus my attention on enjoying every remaining moment of my life in any way I see fit. What a wonderful sense of release and freedom!

The greatest fear I have been facing was a loss of control over my own suffering and the inability to decide for myself when it may be ended. I am now able to enter a humanitarian based hospice care program which again places my fate in my own hands. I know that I will not have to endure an unacceptable level of pain and I will have the ability to decide exactly when that level has been reached. Once again, what a sense of relief!

I expect that more psychological changes will come into play as I proceed toward inevitable death, but I want you all to know that I recognize many wonderful opportunities for which I feel incredibly fortunate, and which have a natural, intrinsic value that contributes to an overall sense of peace that I am currently experiencing. I am going to speak in terms of the end of my own life here. Understand that this is not to indicate that I have given up on living any longer or that Iím immediately ready to call an end to my own life. I plan to enjoy as much time as I possible can.

But I also want you to understand that I am already older than I ever expected to be, and at this moment I am at a level physical discomfort and disability that I find less than satisfactory. I hope to tap the medical bag of tricks enough to enjoy a few more plans, but if everything went to hell right now and I felt that I could not tolerate another day, I can find no reason in my soul to feel cheated. I feel I have been blessed and I feel totally at peace with my life. What more do any of you wish for your own life?

I have lived my life somewhat differently than many of you have. I have always hoped that I was right in many of my assumptions and beliefs, but I knew that what really mattered could only be judged in crystal clarity when viewed from the far end of my life, a view that is only now being presented to me. Here are some things that are passing under this very unique magnifying glass which is now in my possession.

I do not believe in an afterlife as defined by the Christianity, nor do I feel the need to believe in one. I believe that when I am dead, I am dead. I also believe that my legacy will go on in accordance with the life I have chosen to live and how those who have known me will remember me.

I made a decision some time ago that I did not wish to have children, and underwent a vasectomy about ten years ago, but I have never known if I would still find that to be the best decision in the end. While I do not feel that it would be the correct decision for anyone else, I know with absolute certainty that it was correct for me, and I find great relief that concern for the welfare of my offspring does not have to enter into any decisions I make at this time. I have learned from both family and friends that I have indeed made an impression in the lives of their own children, and that some aspect of myself will be endure in their life and be passed again, as interpreted through their own beliefs, to their children, and I find that to be fully satisfying.

Several of my California friends have commented on the undeniable glow that I returned with from the recent visit with my family. Although I have spent one half of my total life, essentially all of my adult life, living on the other side of the continent from them, it did not feel to me to have diminished my love for any of them. My separation was due entirely to climatic conditions (temperature) necessary to my happiness and enforced by financial inadequacies and the requirements of life and in no way indicated any negative feelings for them personally. My actions may not have been understood by everyone involved at all times, but I returned to California knowing that I am loved and that my family understands that they are, and will always be, my family and my greatest source of pride.

I have never felt driven to achieve goals, accumulate wealth or status or power, or Ďto make anything of myselfí. My greatest wish has been limited to being a happy person and to be able to look back at my life and feel satisfied. Over my lifetime Iíve come to understand that an important ingredient to being happy was having a few friends who enjoyed my company and I theirs. Some of my closest friends have expressed that each of them feel that not only am I a happy person in my own mind, that happiness spills over enough that they find me to be an easy, enjoyable person to be around. I have been able to help make their life a little happier. I know in my heart that my friends will remember me.

I am not an extremely social individual and rarely seek to add to my contacts list. Never the less, Iíve discovered that I have inadvertently accumulated a very satisfying number of good, close friends as well as a gratifying amount of acquaintances who express good feelings for me and enjoy my company, and an acceptable percentage of professional associates who freely express a respect for me and have generously provided support in difficult times. This may be insufficient to get me elected president of anything, but it is all that I have ever hoped for or aspired to.

The essential ingredients that comprise a good life are, naturally, very personal and what I find satisfying may represent a dismal existence for someone else. The beauty of the end-view is that it is only my own judgment of my own life that matters, and I am completely at peace.

Tom

To: Tom
From: Bro
Date: 9-22-06

Subject: Pat Ryan's message

Tom,

Pat is one of the very few friends that I have from work. He's a couple of years older than Eric. Our favorite activity at work was trying to see which one of us could outdo the other with practical jokes and just plain ragging on each other. (He's the guy I did the 4 wheelin' trip with to Turkeybone Mountain - pictures on my web site).

Unfortunately he took a job in Parkersburg so I don't get to see him everyday, but I have shared your situation and some of my feelings with him.


Subject: Friday's feeble attempt to converse with you
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 15:16:40 -0400
From: "Patrick Ryan" <pryan@ccmh.org>

To: Paul

Paul,

I would have called you on Thursday if I could have. I want to thank you for forwarding me the e-mail from your brother. It sounds really goofy, but I had to get up and lock my office door before I got through it. I had made it about halfway through when I found tears pouring down my face and trying unsuccessfully to hold back the waterworks.

I know that I have never met your brother, but when you see him I would like you to do me a favor. Thank him for me. I have never read something that has had such a strong emotional effect on me. Given that I will not likely get the chance to talk to him I would like you to let him know that even though he and I are strangers from different generations, and have made many different choices, he was able to put into words things that I have often thought about and felt but have never been able to describe.

Let him know that during the ďone hell of a nice partyĒ, I will make time to have a drink and some more tears for the friend that I should have had.

Take care
Pat

To: Tom
From: Art E
Date: September 22, 2006

Tom,
Sorry to hear your condition has worsened so rapidly.
And, I am so glad to hear you are at peace with your situation.
You are providing quite the example for all of us.
How you are doing it without God beside you (hmm, maybe he is and we just don't get it?) is amazing to me.
I have forwarded your letter on to my wife and a close friend.
Your gift with words and ability to express yourself so well make your
message especially tangible/ appreciable.
Bless you for sharing your thoughts and your life with so many.
I've said it before, if you need a favor, all you need to do is ask.

Blessings upon you, Art

To: Tom
From: Bill H
Date: September 22, 2006

I know not what to say, and truthfully you've said it all.

To quote my favorite musician, Peter Frampton: "I never really wanted to do much more than just play guitar. Instead, I got taken on this incredible journey. It did get a bit confusing and overwhelming at times, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything."

Take care and travel well,

BILL

To; Tom
From: Chris B
Date: September 22, 2006

Hi Tom,
I'm naturally sorry to hear your news, but happy for you that you are at
peace. As a "practicing" (meaning I'm not sure I have it right either)
Christian I know that relationships of a spiritual nature are highly
personal, (between you and whomever you see as your creator), and I
wouldn't try to change your view in any way. Just know that those of us
who count you as a friend are praying for you, your time here on earth, and
for your peaceful release. If there's anything you need or want, please
don't hesitate to ask.

Chris B
Sr Software Quality Engineer

To: Tom
From: Cindy
Date: September 22, 2006

Tom,

I got your email and while I have not written you in the past months, I am glad you continued to share your heart with me. Needless to say, I am experiencing feelings at this point that I can not describe. When one comes to the realization their time is ending, for any reason, it is sobering.

I am glad you have made peace with yourself and have good friends to see you through it all. Your time with your family was a gift that needed to happen. Perhaps that too is part of the peace you are experiencing. However, as a believer, who does believe in an hereafter, I was disheartened to hear that you have no faith in God or the like. While this seems like unusual to many, this appears not to be unusual in the WRIGHT family. Many, including your Grandfather, Uncle Harry, and in some ways even my dad, do not have a belief in a "God" concept. So, while I am not a peace with your belief and I will continue to pray for you, I do understand your thinking and will respect your choice.

On the selfish side, it would have been nice for us to have become reacquainted in our adult life. I guess through the internet this has happened to some extent. It always seems to happen with marriages and funerals that families unite. I am happy you are getting the "time" to enjoy.

Love and prayers,

cindy

To: Tom
From: Paul T
Date: September 22, 2206

Tom,

This is one of the few times in my life that words fail me...

As you have accepted it I cannot and will not say "I'm sorry", you have had a good life and at this point the best I can wish you is an easy passing. I will mourn your loss, the loss of someone I think highly of.

Be assured that I will be here for you, for support or whatever else I may be able to assist with.

As to the afterlife I cannot say I am a firm believer in one either. Being the eternal optimist I am I do hope that after you pass you're pleasantly surprised.

Sleep well, my friend. Write when you can.

Peace,

Paul

To: Tom
From: Stacy C.
Date: September 22, 2006

Good Morning Tom,
I'm very unsure of how to respond to this news. I'm saddened to the point of crying.  What do you say to a man who has just told you, ever so elegantly but none-the-less, that he's dying?  "How about those Raiders, eh? Man, do they suck this year!" Obviously small chit-chat won't do.

I can tell you I admire your letter and wondered to myself if I, the self purported writer, could write anything of such personal integrity and magnitude. Somehow I doubt it.

You've inspired me to live more in the present, savoring each moment as much as I can and not sweating the daily crap that blinds me to the true simplistic beauty that God has created here for us. Because I believe in God, I prayed, but I know this may not console you given your religious views.

I will continue to pray for you, not out of any disrespect, but knowing this is the only thing I know I can do.

May God bless you, Tom.

Stacy

To: Tom
From Tim R
Date: September 22, 2006

Hi Tom, I'm very sorry to hear about your discouraging news. Kind of funny,
I used to think I was a brave tough SOB having survived two tours in Nam in the Marines, having a truck crush my leg and the resulting physical
problems I have endured since then. That doesn't hold a candle to what you face my friend, you are one brave, tough individual! I wish I knew what to say, other than live your life to its fullest and without regret. I hope
your spirits stay strong so that you can enjoy some of the things you enjoy
so much. Please stay in touch and know that you are in our thoughts and
prayers.

Your Friend,

Tim

To: Tom
From: Aaron
Date: September 23, 2006

Tom
Everyone expresses loss in their own way. I'm not sure what my way is
yet but I find that pod-casting is very therapeutic for me. I want to
ask you if it would be alright to share some of your stories on the
show as well as your recent email (I will edit out the names of all
doctors, friends etc). I've recorded my recent show where I talked
about your comic experience with the burnt pillowcase and I'm sure so
many listeners will be able to relate. I also read you recent email
about Hawaii and your plan. I haven't posted the show yet because I
wanted to make sure you didn't have any objections. I've always made
my show more personal than most, meaning that I talk about my life
and experiences outside of scifi.

I want you to know that I have gained a different view on happiness
since I read your email. The angle has always been there but I just
wasn't looking at things that way. I realize that I have more in
common with you than with the rest of my family because of that view.
You have an open mind and that makes me smile. You seem to
understand that spending your last $3 on a book/cd/etc. that you
really enjoy can bring more happiness than saving that same $3 in a
box somewhere. We all need some security but not at the expense of
living a dreary life. I'm not sure if I explained this well but we'll
talk more in a few weeks. Also rest assured that during those weeks
you spend in Hawaii there will be 700 people all around the globe,
whom you have never meant, raising glasses (of good beer, not the
pussy yellow stuff) in celebration of you.

Cheers
Aaron

To: Tom
From: Jan
Date: September 23, 2006

Tom,

Thank you for the frank and detailed email. I am so very sorry to hear the news about your worsening condition. Even though we have written only a little and seen each other not at all over the last decades, I am still filled with sadness. I wanted to read the message to John, but I couldnít finish.

I am glad you feel loved and that your life has been good. You sound very sure about nothing beyond death. Of course, I have a radically different view or else I would not be in the Philippines. The sticky part of this is that we have no proof until we have ďcrossed the bar.Ē* I have an email to you that has been in my draft file for at least a month. I have not sent it because I was afraid that you might take it wrong. It started in response to your reminiscing over your Florida trips, but it became the story of my spiritual journey. If I decide to hit the send button someday, I hope you will know that I am sharing my ideas out of love, not as criticism. If you care to correspond on any topic with me, I would consider it an honor to hear your thoughts.

*I believe your mother loved that poem.

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you.

Love always,

Jan

To: Jan
From: Tom
Date: September 23, 2006

Jan,

Of course you have a radically different view of an afterlife, I am only now able to truly and certainly able to define my own beliefs.

I promise to take any thoughts you decide share with me as being in the spirit of love and not criticism.

Jan, I've always viewed you and I as, I believe, our mothers did. Mom always told me that I was not an accident, she and your Mom decided to have another child around the same time. You and I were conceived as a notch in the genealogy of our family tree. They wanted us to be of the same age group, basically in a group of our own. I'm not sure what your mom says about that.

Love,
Tom

To: Family
From: Tom
Date: September 23, 2006

There are many rooms booked during the period of Oct 15 through the 28th. Trust me on this, we can make this work. Anyone who has not given me a schedule of sort sort, needs to asap. I need to know when you can get free to plan the max needed space, there seems to many lots of vacation condos available, in various configurations. I don't see a problem here.

I'm told that I can contact an airline's "group rate" department and arrange for a block of tickets to be claimed separately but paid for centrally. When I can arrange that, we'll hope that it will all co-ordinate. Everybody knows what I'm trying to achieve. I've always found it helpful to try to adopt an overly optimistic, expectation in these cases.

To: Family & Friends
From: Tom
Date: September 24, 2006

Hi everybody,

My friend Gary came to visit me yesterday. I'm riding back down to San Diego with him today to see his new house, visit the dog beach, Duke is going to ride up and see us, and just generally have a little visit for the weekend.

Although it may seem to be a stressful situation to you all, I'm going to ask you to take a leap of faith here. I am feeling very sure that this is all coming together perfectly. I am following the doctors directions and getting in control of the pain pretty well. I now have to wait until next week to see the radiation people to help me with the mobility factor, and I believe they can help. I'm OK.

As for the party, there are rooms already reserved and there are many more available in Kapoho throughout all of the dates I want. From what I've learned, I will be able to arrange for a block of airline tickets. I've got almost everybody's schedules and the information I need. As soon as AutoZone terminates me next week, the money from from my 401k and Life insurance will become liquid and be fully available to me to complete all arrangements from my side. I'm feeling very assured that this all going to work beautifully. I am going to be able to have a wonderful party and introduce my closest friends from the west coast to of my family from the east coast. We will be able to share stories and get to know one another. I've never even heard of anyone who has been presented with such an opportunity to celebrate their own life and I am filled with peace.

What I ask from all of you is to take that leap of faith and allow that peace into your own souls so as to help me keep it in mine.

I will be back in touch in a day or so.

Love,
Tom

Bro, please call Jane and Tom for me and pass this on.

To: Tom
From: Pamela
Date: September 24, 2006

Hi Tom,

Would you please do me a favor? I would like you to send me your writings of your different adventures. I just want to be sure I have them all.

I consider myself to be so blessed to have you as my friend.

I'll see you soon.

Love ya,

Pamela

To: Tom
From: Curtis H
Date: September 25, 2006

Dang it man, I thought for sure you were gonna beat this rap. Are you gonna make it to Hawaii? If you need any work done on your bike I can come get it and fix it for you. Sorry for the late reply I was in Reno for Street Vibs.

Curtis H
Technical Editor II

To: Tom
From: Kaustuv
Date: September 25, 2006

Dear Tom,

We are all so overwhelmed by the latest news that I don't know exactly what to write back. We all love to read all your emails and the latest one is no exception. You give so much insight to meaning and purpose of life. We all are hoping for a 'miracle' that you mentioned. Please know that you are always in our thoughts. If you don't mind, please give me your phone number and I would like to call you once at least. Our phone number is __________.

Uncle Gene and Aunt Pauline visited us here in Richmond. They stayed with Kate's parents for about 10 days and visited us all for dinner - we talked about you all. They were all reminiscing about the good old days in North Western Pennsylvania, where they grew up. I love to hear their stories and I feel I know Aunt Amy personally from some of the stories.

I am so glad to know that you have peace and I really really hope all the pain you are suffering from will be lessened at least.

Wishing you nothing but the very best,

Kaustuv

To: Tom's Family & Friends
From: Pamela
Date: September 26, 2006

I believe I am finally finding the peace that Tom has and am feeling quite blessed indeed. How many times does someone pass from our lives on to the next journey, that we think to ourselves, ďIf only I would have known Ö I would have said Ö should had done Ö and the list goes on.Ē I feel so blessed to be able to spend this time with Tom to let him know the impact he has and will continue to have, on my life. I am a Christian and Tom and I have had many discussions, some heated, some humorous, about Christianity. (Please forgive this next digression, there is a point.) Today I was pondering some things that I have always held to be true. Itís not about religion, itís about relationship. I have always told people to forget about all of the rules people put on us and just look at the way Jesus lived his life. He was very simple, caring, loving, nonjudgmental, and lived a balanced life. I can honestly say without any reservation, that Tom has succeeded in living that kind of life. He is more interested in his friends than material things. He is incapable of holding a grudge. What you see is what you get and that is more than enough. Tom is the most genuine person I have ever known and I am quite blessed indeed for having him in my life and am a better person because of him.

Pamela

To: Kaustuv
From: Tom
Date: September 27, 2006

Kaustuv,

Thanks for your message. I would very much like an opportunity to speak with you, but at the moment morphine treatments are making it very confusing to handle what seems to be an overwhelming number of details. Slowly, everything is coming together and I look forward to some time to relax and make personal contact with you.

My telephone number is ___________.

Tom