Did you ever have a really great friend?
I’m lucky enough to have one and his name is Tom Whitehead. We’ve known each other since we were in grade school. The amount of hell we’ve raised together (with numerous accomplices) could fill this page several times. The path of destruction (that I can recall) stretches from State College to New Orleans, but when it was time to grow up, we went our seperate ways.
Tom became a lineman. I went to the U.S. Army.
When the shit hit the fan in Iraq and I received my orders, I can still remember calling home and talking to Tom. He always had the ability to bring a calmness to situations of every magnitude. He was right. It all turned out fine.
After I got out of the Army and was going to college in Pittsburgh, I would come back home to visit my Mom who lived in an assisted care home. Tom would let me crash in his spare room.
As time passed, I eventually landed a job in the resort business. Although it wasn’t as often as I would have liked, every year we would get together and talk about the old times as we made some new memories.
When I got married at Nemacolin, Tom was standing beside me.
A few years ago we got together again when he and his wife Kari came to visit. They were the first guests to stay in one of the immaculate Falling Rock suites at Nemacolin. Some magic happened that night and roughly nine months later their daughter Emily was born.
Tom, Kari, and Emily came back to visit several times with Em taking a liking to the animals and of course, to her butler. But the reunions ended when Tom called me to tell me some frightening news in May of 2010.
Emily was diagnosed with leukemia. She has battled with a warrior mentality since that time.
Last night little Emma was locked in the most serious battle she has faced in her young life. After the news was posted in her journal and facebook page, the support for Em overflowed and continues to overflow, especially on twitter. We can’t let it stop.
I called Tom a little while ago and he said, “you know Smitty the prayers are working. Everything that we read online keeps us going.”
We don’t typically get real personal here, but could you do me a favor and say a quick prayer for Emily right now.