A letter to my friend and mentor


Tom,

I haven’t been into your office yet. In fact, I haven’t even been to the upstairs of our building. It seems a bit stupid to be honest. All the things I’ve been through in my life — and the time that’s passed since you left us — that I can’t bring myself to do such a simple thing.

But it’s the little things that creep up on me - like when they replaced your locker at the club with someone new. It hits like a shock to the heart to not see your name there anymore… so much so, I can barely stand to go in there.

Even though I haven’t been spending as much time there, my tennis is improving… and you’ll be happy to know that my shorts haven’t gotten any shorter as a result. I still find it ironic that you could never remember to bring shorts with you even though we played tennis on the same day every week. The sight of you running down a forehand in skinny jeans on Fridays still makes me laugh.

How the hell did everything happen so fast?

It was exactly a year ago today that we were playing tennis and you had to stop because your back was hurting. Two weeks from now it will be a year since you missed the Atlanta offsite to get tests, while all of us sat around at the Four Seasons Atlanta hoping for the best, but fearing the worst. Those memories have left me with no interest in returning there ever again.

It was on Memorial Day last year that you told me you had cancer.

We hugged it out by the pool… I couldn't believe it. Even though it was bad news, you were the strongest guy I knew — it seemed impossible that you wouldn’t get through it. Then somehow, five months later I was setting up tables at your memorial service… What the fuck.

So much changed so fast, and yet, life and business went on without you. That part has been the most confusing.


A group of us have been working on a foundation in your name. You’d be proud to know that Ryan has stepped into the roll of President and Phil is working his magic on the language for the branding efforts. Our meetings are productive and always carry a certain weight with them. Even though you aren't there, we can feel you nearby.

Between the TA Foundation and Level, I’m in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed at trying to honor what you left behind — and I feel like no matter how hard I try I’m still miles behind where I should be.

I wish you were around to tell to put my big boy pants on. Or have one of those talks with me where time disappears and the world seems to tip sideways and suddenly through your advice — the right next thing comes into focus.


Sometimes I still imagine you jogging down the stairs to court one on a Friday afternoon. Skinny jeans and trucker hat… all the makings of a non-tennis player.

“Sup Danno”
“Sup Tom”
“Did you bring a headband to go with those 80's shorts?”
(Insert that big TA laugh)

I guess it’s weird to miss someone making fun of you… but I do.


Maybe at some point I’ll make it upstairs and go into your old office. I’m pretty sure no matter how long I wait it wont be any easier.

I guess I’m still hoping that I will wake up one morning and get a message from you about margins, or scolding me for grammatical errors from a recent email I’d sent.

I’d head into work and drop my bag in my office. Then take that long walk through the downstairs hallway and hope to God I’m not walking into your office after you’ve just been on a call with Paris. I’d turn right at the elevator and make my way up the wide staircase. Andrea would be there at her desk, and we’d catch up for a moment on the latest news before she nods me in.

There you’d be, behind your desk, playing your guitar. I’d pull up a chair and we’d get down to business. It’d probably be a heavy conversation about strategy, or hiring decisions, or sales pipeline, with you challenging every single thing I say. Eventually we’d close out the conversation, and I’d get up to walk towards the door. And as I do, you’d stop me with that casual change up you always managed so well. “Hey… Tennis Friday?”

Here’s the thing…

I know that you're gone. I know that you aren't reading this. I know that we are never going to have one of those life changing conversations again… and I know I have to let all of this go… But I’m just not ready to yet.

So if it’s ok by you, I’m just going to keep writing you these stupid letters.

-Dan

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