Remembering Tommy – November 2, 2009

A letter RoseMary Fuss sent to friends on November 2, 2009

This is a time of year for reflection and I find my thoughts drifting to all of Tommy’s friends, even those who I do not know personally. We were privileged to have Tommy in our lives for 17 years. He loved and is loved. He enriched our lives and for that I am grateful. I hope that you have good memories of him. Celebrate his life and his legacy of friendship. For those of you who carry Tommy in your hearts, may he be a positive force – one that encourages you to take care of yourself and one another and to do good things with your life.

One of Tommy’s legacies is that of friendship. I have come to realize how much he valued his friends, how fiercely loyal he was, and how much he cared for them. Sometime this week the Yoda quote, A GREAT FRIEND YOU ARE, will be engraved on the back of his headstone under the name FUSS. I do this as much for Tommy as for all of his friends who have become so very dear to us. Great friends you are. . .

Another of Tommy’s legacies is the realization of how urgent and important it is for all of us to take mental illness seriously…to raise awareness, to remove the stigmas and to further the understanding of these diseases. Tommy died of a disease of the brain. He did not give us the time to properly diagnosis and help him. We can only speculate – bipolar? early psychosis? borderline personality disorder? We will never know. But we, his family, are dedicated to furthering our understanding. Shortly after his death we created a private foundation, The Tommy Fuss Fund, to promote medical research leading to better understanding of mental illness and improved methods of diagnosis and treatment with a focus on adolescents. I live with the Hope of understanding and the Dream of curing mental illness.

And The Tommy Fuss Team continues their participation in the annual Overnight Walks sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We walk through the night raising funds for research and programming. More importantly we walk to raise awareness and bring issues of mental illness out of the darkness. On Saturday November 7 we will debut a song, Walking Toward the Light, inspired by the Tommy Fuss Team and their participation in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks. The Team worked with a local artist, Ben Tousley (Ben and I went to high school together in Chatham, NJ) to create this song. It is inspirational and empowering, and while it is very personal, it is also universal and will resonate with all those who have lost a loved one to suicide and who work to raise awareness and remove the stigma associated with mental illness.

My sincerest best wishes
RoseMary Fuss