Remembering Tom From

On a crisp Saturday morning in November, fellow high school classmates and many familiar faces gathered together. Unfortunately, the reason for the gathering was to mourn the loss of a friend, Tom Fromal. Five days prior, Fromal was on his way home from college for Thanksgiving break with his girlfriend in the passenger seat when the unforeseen happened.

His family was expecting them both at 8 p.m. that Sunday night. Just a couple exits away from what Fromal called home his and his girlfriend’s lives were taken. He was speeding, trying to make it home a little bit faster when he lost control of the car and hit a median; the car behind them didn’t break fast enough and killed them both instantly. The tragic news shocked many people and with the loss of two teenagers everyone was reminded just how fragile life really is.

The funeral home was packed with familiar faces passing in and out; everyone was exchanging a pat on the shoulder along with a couple words of sympathy. The immature boys in high school that had turned into young men did not trade handshakes – on that day they preferred a hug – nor did they hide their glassy eyes filled with tears. The room was mixed with the people who knew Fromal in high school, and the friends he made at Penn State. In the room the jocks were mixing with the outcasts, and no one seemed to notice. Tom Fromal always had a way of bringing people together.

One after another Fromal’s closest family members shook hands and gave hugs to other mourning relatives, and to friends of their son they were meeting for the first time. His parents looked strong as they put on a smile for every person who walked by thanking them for their support. There were blue flowers all around his closed casket with the words “nephew, cousin, brother, and beloved son” scripted on the ribbons intertwined throughout the flowers. The sad young crowd all dressed in black was overwhelming, and the deep emotions circulating through the room were heartbreaking. Most people passing by the wooden casket stopped and gently touched it, probably recalling their favorite memory of Fromal.

It took the accidental death of a friend to make people stop their busy lives to realize that at any moment their lives may be taken just as fast as Fromal’s. Everyone in that room was there to remember his life, and at the same time try to deal with the fact that Tom Fromal will no longer be present in theirs.

“I don’t understand why God decided to take my little brother away from all of us, but I am going to celebrate the short-lasting life he was given by remembering him today, and everyday after,” Fromal’s sister said as she began her words of remembrance with a shaky voice and a quivering lip. Candice Fromal, his older sister stood before all of Tom’s family and friends and read a poem titled “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” With her trembling voice she got through the poem, and had the entire room reached for tissues. Her message was about taking the extra time to remind the people in your life you love them, because she learned the hard way that no one is guaranteed another day. Candice’s words moved everyone in the room; she seemed strong and hopeful, considering she was speaking at her little brother’s funeral.

Death is a hard concept to grasp, especially when you can’t understand it, and you’re not ready to accept it. Fromal didn’t get to graduate college, or have a family of his own. He didn’t get to grow old, and his mother had to bury her only son. Tom Fromal will be the reason the people at his funeral think twice about ignoring the speed limit, and the reason they remember to say “I love you” before leaving the house.

Thu Anh Hoang and Tom Fromal
Tom Fromal and Thu Anh Hoang

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