In Memory of Tom

Debbie Amato

On February 29, 1996, I lost my best friend and soulmate, Thomas Tatum, to AIDS. I loved Tom very much. He was always there for me. He had such courage and spirit. We lived together for a year, and helped each other out. Tom didn't let his illness get in the way of living. We would do things together, like rent movies or go shopping. He even bought a car a month before his death. He used to say:"I've lived 41 years on this planet, and that's pretty good." He was a laid-back hippie with an optimistic attitude and a sense of adventure and a love of life that I have never seen in anyone else. Tom followed his own path in life, and did so courageously.

Tom took me in when I had nowhere to go. My boyfriend at the time kicked me out, and I had no job or money. I called Tom up and asked him to help me out. He told me to drive out to where he was living with his brother. Within a week, we got an apartment together.

Tom had plenty of stamina for someone with AIDS, and he wasn't even taking any of the medications available. He chose to let nature take it's course, and he lasted 5 years with the illness. It wasnt until a week prior to his death that he contacted pnuemonia.

Upon contacting pnuemonia, his health deteriorated rapidly. He already was only 100 pounds and had a myriad of illnesses and disorders associated with AIDS. His parents brought him to the hospital where he had to be put on oxygen and morphine.

I was with Tom the night he died. I told him how much I loved him, told him I would be okay, and that if I ever married and had a son, I would name him "Thomas".

His mother told me that night that Tom loved me very much but he could'nt allow himself to love because he was dying. I knew he loved me already. If it wasn't for AIDS, we probably would have romatically involved. (Not all people with AIDS are gay). I remember times earlier in our friendship when he seemed romatically inclined yet held back.

But we were never afraid to say "I love you" to each other.

Tom was cremated. On Easter Sunday, 1996, Tom's family and myself went to the beach in Nortern California near Santa Rosa and scattered his ashes in the ocean.

I learned so much about life from Tom. I miss him so much and only hope that there is an afterlife and that we will be together again forever. I have written a poem about Tom.


Your pain is over, and mine's just begun.
It's with me from dawn till the setting sun.
AIDS took you away, piece by piece,
"Till death finally gave you sweet release
. I lie here alone, eyes stinging with tears,
Knowing I'm without you the rest of my years.
My companion, my best friend, no longer with me,
Your ashes float in the Pacific sea.
I enter a house-no longer our home,
Life's never been so very alone.
Your pain is over, and mine's just begun.
It's with me from dawn 'till the setting sun.
Ripping my heart, tearing me apart.
Alone here I cry, for why did you die?!
I love you, Tommy Boy........

I would like to hear from other people who have lost someone to AIDS.

Debbie Amato

You can send email to Debbie at: [email protected]
mail welcome

anniversary date 2-29-96
date of post 03-15-97

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW