A Breath of Life

The only cure for despair is gratitude.

As my life continues to fall apart around me, I can’t help but be plagued by hurt and anger over all the broken promises I have experienced lately. These broken promises have done more than just hurt me financially, they have broken my heart into a million pieces and seem to have come from innumerable places. I found myself sinking further into bitterness and despair. And yet, the last thing I want is to hold onto anger and resentment. I know that I have to let go of the hurt, I have to forgive, and I have to allow myself to heal.

So this is how it all begins.

Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have every been to stand back up taller than you ever were.

I believe, the first step towards forgiveness is going to be taking account of and expressing gratitude for the many blessings God has put in my life. Beginning with the one who has hurt me the most. I have had a pretty undeservedly blessed life. And for that I am immensely grateful.

The greatest blessing in my life (something that so many people never get to experience) was that brief moment in time where I got to dance on air, discover new colors in the rainbow, and experience the total of bliss of being with the most wonderful woman in the world: my person, Thomasina.

I cannot help but be eternally grateful for the light that this woman brought into my world. Even if I never reach the heights of joy that I once had with my person by my side and in my corner, I will always carry with me the memories of the time that I got to be blessed by the love and support of my person.

There are so many things I am grateful for in my time with Thomasina. Where do I begin?

Her Resilience

The first thing that strikes me about Thomasina is how resilient and hard working she is. She kind of reminds me of the character of Chiyo Sakamoto, the main protagonist in Memoirs of a Geisha. I mean, that is one badass woman. Thomasina is even more badass, though.

Thomasina has been through a lot in life. She comes from very humble beginnings and through sheer grit and force of will, she has risen above every challenge she faced and created something beautiful and amazing.

I got to see this first hand when we were moving from NYC to L.A. Thomasina and I had concocted a crazy plan to rent a 26′ moving truck and load about 1/4th of it with all her stuff in NYC and then rent out space on the truck to other people moving their things from NYC to L.A. or anywhere along the way.

We ended up selling space to about 13 clients all over the city, effectively filling it to the brim, and I had constructed an elaborate schedule where we would gather all their things in one day and then head west before nightfall. On the morning of the big move, we went to pick up our rental truck in New Jersey and disaster struck: Our truck wasn’t ready on time! An hour went by. Then another hour. Then another.

By the time we ended up getting our truck five hours late, we were already hopelessly behind schedule. During all this time, I was in a panic. I would have never made it through without Thomasina’s help. Obviously, I needed to call clients and reschedule our pickups with them, but I am terrible at handling phone calls and was so stressed, I didn’t even know where to begin.

Thomasina very calmly and gracefully started going through our schedule and called clients and rearranged pickups. We worked together – I was handling back-end logistics, and she was handling front-end client relations – and we managed to get everyone rescheduled and keep them happy for the most part.

But that was only the beginning of our troubles. Once we got started running our pickups, we found ourselves passing through midtown Manhattan during some of the highest traffic times, throwing us even further behind schedule. We had to hustle like nobody’s business to get to each location and quickly haul furniture and boxes into the truck.

Often, I would be in charge of the stacking and arranging of boxes which prevented me from doing a lot of the heavy lifting. That was no problem for Thomasina. She exerted every ounce of strength she had and quite fearlessly and without any complaint took the initiative to haul and lift boxes onto our truck. I remember when we were struggling with this huge, extremely heavy Hida Bed Sofa, and my jaw nearly dropped in awe of what a fighter my little 5-foot fiancée is. ‘If this is how she approaches everything in life, this girl is on a rocket-ship to the pinnacle of success,’ I thought to myself.

Even though we had been up since 5 a.m. that morning, Thomasina hauled ass all day and well into the night when we finally made our last pick-up at 2 a.m. the next morning. And she didn’t whine or complain once.

The next week was a grueling paced road-trip from NYC to Chicago, then down New Orleans with a stopovers in Houston and Dallas, and finally onto L.A. And guess what Thomasina did? She insisted on splitting the driving time with me so that I could rest and we could get to our next destination on time. This is unheard of. Who would do that? This woman is one freaking badass.

I know from Thomasina’s personal history that she has been through the ringer. And just during our first two years together, I watched her go through so many challenges and hardships and just keep on muscling through. I am in absolute awe of her.

This was just one of so many examples of where I saw Thomasina jump in and work her butt off to accomplish the impossible, often times in support of me – and with a great big smile on her face. She did it because that is who she is: a resilient, hard-working, cheerful human being. Each and every time, my heart would leap with joy and I would have to pinch myself to remind myself I wasn’t dreaming. I was an absolute awe of her. I must have said this to myself at least a couple of hundred times: “How am I so lucky to be standing in the presence of this amazing woman?”

West Texas (November 2017).
Trucker Thommi in New Mexico (November 2017).

Her Thoughtfulness

Thomasina never ceased to surprise and amaze me with how thoughtful she could be. She never stopped showing me how much she loved me by paying attention to the things I said, thinking of me, and putting me first.

My first birthday Thomasina and I ever celebrated together was a perfect example of this. Thomasina went to great lengths to plan a whole day for me to surprise me. It started with her taking me to Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles for lunch. She heard me mention several times that I was curious about that place and had never been. Then, that summer, we went with her parents and I just couldn’t stop talking about how much I loved it. So, for my birthday she decided to surprise me by taking me there.

That was just her warm-up routine, though. The biggest surprise came next. Thomasina knows me so well. She knows I don’t really like large overcrowded places and that spending one-on-one time with her meant more to me than spending time with a big group of friends, which is more to her preference. She could have, and I was afraid she might, repeated the same kind of birthday surprise for me that I had given her earlier that year – had a big surprise get together with all our friends at a restaurant. But Thomasina pays attention. She knows me. She knows that isn’t my style.

Instead, on the afternoon of my birthday, I found myself parking in a weird part of town I had never been, walking several blocks down a nondescript street when all of the sudden Thomasina ducked into this dark doorway and I nervously followed her in. And what did I find? A big empty bar full to the brim of old arcade machines. She handed me a roll of quarters, and gave me a kiss and said, “Happy birthday!”

That was one of the most fun filled afternoons of my entire life. And it all came about because my person paid attention to so many conversations we had before. She knew that I loved barcades, but I didn’t like crowded places. She knew how when I was a kid one of my favorite things was when, for special occasions, my dad would take me to the arcade and hand me a fistfuls of tokens and then spend time playing video games with me.

And this girl didn’t just sit and sip on her cocktails and watch me play. No, like a true champ, she dove headfirst into the unfamiliar-to-her world of nerdy old-school arcade games and she played every one with me and really got into it! Talk about adopting your partner’s interests as your own. That’s real love. I was in heaven. And she wasn’t too bad, either…

This is just one of countless times where Thomasina would melt my heart by doing something sweet and thoughtful for me that proved she had been listening and remembering my likes, my dislikes, my hopes, and my warm memories. And after every time I had scooped my melted heart up off the floor, I would say to myself, “How freaking lucky am I to get to spend my time with this amazing woman – and she wants to spend her time with me!”

Her Tender Heart

When Thomasina and I first started dating, it was obvious she had a tender heart. She was renting a room in this big house and her roommates were constantly away from home on the road, so Thomasina had to take care of the five dogs. The way she handled herself around those dogs and loved on them, and the way those dogs adored her always just melted my heart.

I remember she told me a story about how one of the dogs had been attacked by a coyote and she had to rush the dog to the emergency room. Now, obviously, anyone in this situation would want to take care of the dog and be upset by what had happened, but when Thomasina told that story, I could just sense in her soul this deep love and kindness that surpassed that of normal humans.

Thomasina truly felt that dog’s pain and was right there with him as he was being stitched back up. She was always so kind and gentle with him. She had an especially soft spot in her heart for the littlest one, Zuzu. Thomasina held and comforted that nervous little Chihuahua like it was her own baby. To see it made my heart sing.

“Okay, so she’s good around animals. How is she with kids?” I found myself wondering. I would soon find out.

In the spring of 2017, my sister and her husband came through L.A. to work on a video shoot. They brought their two little baby boys with them, Scout and Theo. Having never met them in her life, Thomasina was exuberantly eager to volunteer to babysit. Unfortunately, I had to work that night and couldn’t be home with her to help out the whole time, but that didn’t deter her. They were my family, so they were her family, and she was all too happy to help out.

When I came home later that evening, I found Thomasina and the boys cuddled up together on the couch. She had devoted every ounce of love and attention she had to them and by the way they trusted and adored her, it showed. Ever since then, whenever Scout and Theo see Thomasina, they are bursting with excitement and can’t wait to hang out with her and play with her. They have carved out a very special and sacred place in their hearts for her, and that is a genuine reflection that she has done the same for them.

Over time, I came to see Thomasina in more and more situations where her tender heart came through. I have seen her special relationship with her own nephew and the bond that they share. I have seen her around my other nieces and nephews, my own dog, Starbuck, and other children, and I have seen how genuine and kind her heart is.

I have seen Thomasina’s heart bleed at injustices and I have seen her giving her all to volunteer and serve others. Even the way that she approaches her work as a performer is an act of service, and I had the distinct pleasure of reveling in that in the summer of 2017 when we worked together at Transcendence Theatre Company in Sonoma and I got to see how truly loving and caring she was with everyone she met.

Nothing is beneath Thomasina. In Sonoma, I saw firsthand how she sets herself apart from many of her peers with her giving spirit and selfless volunteering. Each and every time I have born witness to and been on the receiving end of her tender heart, it has caused my heart overflow with joy. “Is this woman even real?” I would ask myself, “How lucky I am to be allowed to bask in her glow!”

They all want to sleep on top of her! (December 2016)
A natural mother (April 2017).

Her Encouragement

Over the last few years I have encountered some tremendous obstacles and setbacks as I have tried, at a very late stage in my life, to build an entirely new career for myself from scratch. And all along the way, I have been blessed to have one of the most loving and encouraging human beings in my corner, cheering me on. I honestly don’t know how I would have done it without her.

One of the most difficult challenges I faced was when I got sued for trying to do what I thought was “the right thing” and blow the whistle on some wrongdoing I saw happening. I can tell you for a fact that Thomasina was not happy with the carelessness with which I proceeded on my “righteous quest” and how that led to me getting sued. And yet, she stuck by me every inch of the way and encouraged me to keep going.

When I needed to raise funds to put together a legal defense, Thomasina was right there with me, giving me her time and her talents, helping me to raise money. She stayed up late nights with me as I poured over legal paperwork, and when I was feeling like all was lost, she always told me that I was bigger than my trials and that I would make it through. Together, we did.

I remember so many nights when I would be working impossible hours driving Lyft – 17+ hour days with very few breaks, sometimes until 3 and 4 in the morning. And who was constantly checking in on me to make sure I was okay and to tell me how proud she was of me and encouraging me to keep going? My person, Thomasina.

“I don’t know how you do it, but you amaze me,” she would say to me, “I have never met anyone as smart and as talented as you.”

And I could tell she genuinely meant it! Here was this woman, this otherworldly angel of a woman, standing before me and telling me that she was proud of me and that I had value and worth. She believed in me at times when I struggled to believe in myself, and it certainly couldn’t have been easy.

Thomasina wrote me so many little notes of encouragement and sung my praises to others so often, I couldn’t possibly keep count. Every time she did this, my heart would swell with pride and I believed in myself that much more. Everyone needs someone to believe in them, but I didn’t have just anyone believing in me: I had Thomasina, who was a queen in her own right. I would find myself thinking, “What can’t I do with Thomasina in my corner? The sky is the limit! How lucky I am to have this amazing woman in my life who fully and completely believes in me!”

My favorite note of encouragement from Thomasina.

Her Intelligence

One of the first things I noticed about Thomasina was just how stinkin’ smart she is. From the moment we first met, I found her engaging and well educated on so many topics. For the first time in my life, not only did I have someone sitting across from me who had no trouble keeping up with everything I was throwing at her, at times I would find myself having trouble keeping up with her!

Thomasina often would compliment me on my smarts and my “beautiful brain,” which I found especially flattering considering who it was coming from. I can tell you for a fact that if Thomasina had wanted to be a doctor, she would have been the top in her field. If Thomasina had wanted to run a business, it would no doubt be enormously successful, and her competitors better watch out.

Thomasina was an expert and a fount of knowledge on the topics that interested her, and I could just spend days and days listening to her educate me about everything from musicals to how to properly set up and run a cocktail party. But what amazed me more was how quickly and effortlessly she picked up new skills and information.

There is no doubt that my head is full of all kinds of random facts and knowledge that most people don’t give a hoot about. And yet, no matter what I felt like going on about, Thomasina gave me her time and attention, and she was right there with me every step of the way absorbing what I had to say and giving me thoughtful feedback.

When Thomasina and I decided to start cooking together, I was blown away by how quickly she acquired new skills and could think on her feet in the kitchen. When I needed an assistant to help me on a commercial I was the production manager on, Thomasina just knocked my socks off with how deftly she caught onto what would seem to an outsider like a complicated and disorganized shoot. And yet she just jumped right in and was practically running the show without a second though.

Thomasina’s intelligence is a gift to humanity. I have no doubt that millions of people will be blessed by it, whether it be one-on-one through fascinating and engaging conversation, or whether it be through one of the many projects and endeavors she contributes her beautiful brain to. I am so grateful for the many times that I found myself stopping in my tracks and thinking, “Wow. Who is this woman? Is she even real? How did I get to be so lucky to be on the same team as her?”

The first picture I ever took of Thomasina (November 6, 2016).

Her Natural Gifts

One of the first things you might notice about Thomasina is her magnetic personality. She has such a natural charisma and charm that she can’t help but light up any room she sets foot in. And when she leaves a room, it can be felt as well, as everything begins to dim. Her energy is infectious, and her laughter is like candy.

One of the things I loved most about Thomasina is how her natural energy and charisma in large crowds of people offset my own reticence to jump into group social situations. With her by my side, I managed to not just survive, but find myself thriving in situations that previously I would have been absolutely terrified to walk into.

That charisma and charm translates naturally to Thomasina’s life as a performer. I have seen firsthand how seriously Thomasina takes her craft. She puts a tremendous amount of thought, time, and care into her life as a performer – whether it be choreographing a dance number or slipping into the skin of a new character.

I can’t help but notice though, as I observe Thomasina working so hard, that for her, it has to be just a little bit easier than for everyone else. Because Thomasina has a huge unfair advantage: She is just gifted at acting, singing, dancing, and putting on a show. It is natural. And because of that, she is a gift.

I think that is why that for those who have been so blessed to know Thomasina like I have, and not just from the casual observer’s vantage point, that you start to realize she is quite possible one of the most beautiful women in the world. Obviously, she has natural beauty in spades, and I would dare anyone to find a flaw on her – I certainly never could. When her natural beauty is combined with all her other qualities, her talents, her kindness, and her unrivaled work ethic, once you start to see the true Thomasina in all her glory, it is almost as if she is glowing.

I have had the joy of watching Thomasina perform many times – I wouldn’t dare miss a performance if I can help it, even if I had to fly across the country to see her. I can say without a doubt that she shines every moment she is on stage or in front of the camera. But she doesn’t shine in a scene stealing upstaging kind of way. No, Thomasina is too smart and too much of a professional team-player for that. She shines and her light shines on everyone else around her, making their performances that much more entertaining and special.

In the summer of 2017, I watched all but two performances she did during Trancendence’s “Broadway Under the Stars – Fascinating Rhythm” show. Not only did I never tire of seeing her performing, it literally took my breath away and sometimes even moved me to tears – right down to the last performance.

That last time I had the privileged of seeing Thomasina perform was when she played the role of Ali in Mamma Mia at the North Shore Music Theatre in Boston this fall. Again, she just absolutely blew me away. I remember thinking to myself, “Is that really my wife? Did I accidentally marry a celebrity? What did I ever do to deserve having this goddess in my life?”

And the list goes on

I could easily write 1,000 pages about all the times Thomasina has blessed my life, made my heart sing for joy, and made me feel loved, special, important, strong, and magical. It seems like every other day, sometimes multiple times a day, I would find myself just having to stop and take a moment and just be in awe of her character as a woman and of her natural gifts.

When you have someone like Thomasina touch your life it permanently alters you. You just can’t escape it. The challenge for me is to not let that indelible mark that Thomasina has left on my life turn into an empty gaping hole now that she is no longer in it.

I could choose to focus on all that I have lost. And if you have been paying attention, it is obvious that feeling Thomasina’s absence is quite a significant loss. Or, I could choose to remind myself of what I knew all along: That Thomasina is an undeserved blessing. She is a miracle in human form sent to bless the lives of all she chooses to for as long as we are lucky to have her.

Do we hate the sun for setting? Do we hate the rainbow for fading? Do we hate the flower for wilting? Who can? Who could? No. We count our blessings and we thank God for each and every moment in time we were allowed to enjoy their beauty.

And so, despite my grief and pain, the only way I know I can move on from the loss of my person is to focus on the good times and be grateful for the blessings, fleeting as they may have been. I refuse to allow myself to drown in bitterness and despair.

I may feel like I’m in the deep end right now. I am looking up, water above my head, lungs bursting for breath… but if I remember, and I allow myself to be grateful for the light that touched my life, I know that those memories, and the gratitude for those blessings will sustain me, they were a gift from God, and I will survive just long enough to break the surface of the water and swim my way into a new and bright future. For who’s future couldn’t be bright with the glow of precious time spent with Thomasina in their memories?

Thank you God, for your the many beautiful people and blessings you have put in my life. And especially thank you for Thomasina, the greatest blessing of all, and the magical time I got to spend with her and the stronger and better man that she has helped me become.

T+Z in wine country! (August 2017)