I’m not even sure what exactly to say that hasn’t already been said. I’ve been sitting here for the last hour or so just staring at the screen with a blank word document in front of me. I’d be lying if I said Thomas and I were very close friends. Truth is we never met and only knew each other through TJRWrestling. Whenever we talked, it was usually him emailing me requesting a banner for a new column he wanted to write. And sometimes it was just getting input because he was always volunteering to help John with website modifications. And then the odd time, just out of the kindness in his heart, he would simply just email asking how were things and hoping all was well. That’s just the kind of guy he was. That’s the Thomas Briggs that I knew. That’s the Thomas Briggs I never met and sadly now will never meet.
On Sunday, March 1st, 2015 we were visiting my wife’s grandmother who lives 3 hours away from us. Both my wife and I knew very well that this would more than likely be the last time we would ever see her alive. She had been battling cancer now for almost the last 2 years and was not well. It was there while we sat around her bed comforting each other that my good friend John Canton sent me a text the following text message:
From: John Canton. Received: 5:31pm, Mar 1
Sigh. I got this from Aaron Briggs – twin brother of Tom
Hey John. I hate to tell you this, but my brother died this morning in a car accident. I’m absolutely devastated and heartbroken.
Wow. I’m stunned.
I didn’t know what to say. I just sat there staring at my phone screen before I could compose myself to reply back. How could he be dead? Both John and I had just talked to him the week prior. It had been literally months since we last spoke before that. Now all of a sudden we reconnect, and then just as fast, he was just gone? He was only 29 years old. How can he just be gone like that?
I’ve never been one to handle death too well, regardless of the circumstances involved or even the age. It always tests my faith. And the older I get, the more it seems that people pass away more often than before. I try telling myself that it is God’s plan and no one lives forever. Or the classic “Only the good die young” saying. We try and tell ourselves whatever we can to make it all make sense. If I am being completely honest, there are times where I look at everything that is good in my life and I am thankful for all of my blessings. Then there are these times, dark times where I question the very existence of a higher power if you will. If there is a God, why do good guys like Tom get taken from this earth so young, yet murderers, rapists and just plan evil continue to live? Don’t try and answer that question because I am well aware it opens up a whole different debate. That’s not what this column is about. This is just how I feel. Like everyone at TJRWrestling, Tom’s family and friends and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him, I miss him. I’m confused. I can’t understand why this had to happen. Maybe we aren’t meant to understand. I really don’t know what to think.
It was Tuesday night and my wife got the call. Her grandmother passed away peacefully. She was 82. We leave to pay our last respects this weekend. We knew it was coming. She lived a long and beautiful life and I will miss her smiles and loving nature. The difference with Tom is no one could have seen this coming, including Tom himself and I selfishly keep putting myself in his shoes. What if it was me? And to whoever is reading this right now, what if it was you? One day you are just doing what you normally do. You talk to family, send some emails, chatted with some friends and planned for tomorrow with your fiancé. Then tomorrow comes and without knowing, your life comes to a sudden and unexpected end. Again I selfishly ask what if it was you?
It really emphasizes the importance of life and living each day to its fullest. We’ve heard the expression time and time again. If anything, it reminded me of some advice that my friend gave me years ago:
“The best advice I can give you is this. Never stay mad at people. No matter who and no matter what.You never know if it is the last time that you will ever see them or if it is the last time they will ever see you.” – Paul Tavares
Paul told me this because he got in a fight with his dad, didn’t speak to him for 5 days and then his dad died from a sudden massive heart attack. A few years later, Paul was killed by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am forever thankful for his words of wisdom.
I am forever thankful for John Canton who runs TJRWrestling and has become a great friend over the years. Most of all, I am thankful for wrestling and for it bringing the person that was Thomas Briggs into my life. Cherish every single day. Tell those you love how much they mean to you any chance you get. Show compassion, accept the unexpected that life brings and allow forgiveness.
Thomas my friend, I never met you. We barely spoke, but when we did, you were always a class act. And I am not ashamed to admit that I just wrote this last part with tears in my eyes because I will truly miss you and our exchanges via email. It pains my heart knowing that I will never see another email in my inbox with your name on it. May you stay forever young. TJRWrestling won’t be the same without you.
And to your twin brother Aaron, I am so sorry for your loss and my deepest condolences to you and your entire family during this difficult time. I hope one day when you are ready you will continue the SharpShooter cast. And if that day should ever come and you need a banner, you know who to ask my friend.
If you want to show your respects and support for Tom’s family, his youngest brother Evan has se tup a donation page that you can visit and contribute to by clicking here. Donations are going to the Tony & Alicia Gwynn Foundation for the late San Diego Padres baseball legend who Tom idolized. You are not obligated to donate, but it is an option if you are able to and are interested. Tom was really sad when Gwynn died. He told John about how he went to visit a statue dedicated to Gwynn and there were thousands of people there. Tom loved sports, especially the San Diego Padres.
Speaking of Evan, In closing I would like to leave you with what he wrote on Tom’s Facebook page as I could not have worded it any better myself. Beautiful words dedicated to a beautiful human.
I never thought that at this point in my life I would be without any of my brothers. I thought we were all going to grow old together. I am truly heartbroken by the loss of my brother Tom. I will never have the words to properly describe my endless and unconditional love for him, the same love he had for everybody in his life. He was the embodiment of selflessness, love, grace, and happiness. I value every second that I got to spend with him. We are all saddened at the loss of our brother. If we look at the time he spent here with us…it was time well spent. Tom was about quality as opposed to quantity. In 29 years Tom reached a level of character that it takes most people an entire lifetime to reach. He was genuine and pure. It only took him 29 years to reach that level of character. That to me is truly a beautiful thing. Tom was a beautiful person, a beautiful soul. He wished for nothing but good and positive things for absolutely everybody. My gentleman of a brother. Tom Briggs was truly a Saint. We are all so blessed to have known him. And I must say…it warms my heart to come on here and see all of the love that Tom had in his life…all of the people that he made a strong and positive impact on. A truly beautiful thing to see. Tom, we miss you, we love you, and we are all better people for having known you. You were a bright light in a dark world. Now may you shine on with the Lord. I love you Tommy.
Here’s a video tribute I made in Tom’s memory.
– Melo Man
Read more tributes to Thomas Briggs:
Brandon Lasher http://tjrwrestling.net/a-tribute-to-the-sharpshooter-cast/
Heather Hickey http://tjrwrestling.net/remembering-thomas-briggs-writing/
John Canton http://tjrwrestling.net/in-memory-of-tom-briggs/ and he also dedicated the Raw Deal to him here: http://tjrwrestling.net/the-john-report-the-wwe-raw-deal-030215/