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Tom Dittberner

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Tom Dittberner

Place of birth: None

I think we can all agree that saying Tom was a great guy is an understatement. Although many adjectives come to mind when I actually try to describe my best friend in words, these are a few that stand out to me:

-Hardworking. If he had his heart set on something, there was nothing that stood in his way. He was able to juggle work and family, and still had enough time for us friends. Even if that meant him falling asleep on occasion. No offense was taken. We were just happy to be around him and we knew he worked hard. If you’ve been following his journey, you know he tried every last option before he physically had to stop.

-Kind-Hearted. If there is one thing that people knew about him, it’s that he cared for the people around him. He was always asking how life was treating me, even the last time I talked to him, he asked how my day at work was. He was always there for me, whether it was lending a hand or advice, or a shoulder to cry on. He put others first and he always made me laugh about what was bothering me in the end. He was very generous with his friendship towards me, even if I didn’t always deserve it.

-Fun-Loving. He wasn’t afraid of doing what made him happy. He wasn’t afraid to get out and embrace life and he wasn’t afraid to sit back and enjoy it when it was needed. He inspires me to make my life better simply by actually enjoying things. He enjoyed being around people that he cared about. He enjoyed being a husband. He enjoyed being a father. He enjoyed life. Even in his final days, he was cracking jokes. We went to visit him the Sunday after he returned from Texas and he had me rolling. He said, as much it sucks wearing this oxygen mask and feeling weak, I realized I sound like Christopher Walken. The other joke is too inappropriate.

-Food Lover: Introducing me to new restaurants, getting malts at Snuffy’s, cones at Connie’s Creamy Cone or Grand Ole Creamery, or enjoying a meal that Jessa cooked (which would always turn out great even though she disagreed), for example, she made Tofu Pad Thai. Even though that might not sound appetizing to some of you, it was awesome. She thought she ruined it. No way. It ruled, end of story. We would talk about food for hours, so let’s move on.

Enjoying friendship: Playing pool out at Shooters, watching any movie imaginable and playing Counter Strike over at Josh Buddy’s, apartment parties at Salem Green, Dexter parties at our place, firing up the grill(I know that is related to food, I told you we would talk about it forever), laughing our asses off to Louis CK, hell, even playing with his cats or sitting by a fire, he knew how to enjoy it and made the most of it.

Like I said, he wasn’t afraid of doing what made him happy. Sometimes that meant throwing some death metal on the stereo system at a party and air jamming to it while everyone looked at us like we were nuts, including our significant others. Other times it meant getting down to gangster rap at those same parties, which I think confused people more than the air jamming, because we looked so badass all the time. He was one of my best men in my wedding. Generally during the dollar dance, guys dance with the bride and gals with the groom. But of course, when the theme song to the show Scrubs started to play (which was one of our favorite shows) who is the next dancer in line? Tom, of course. As I spun him around, he even yelled Eagle! If you don’t know what that means, look up scrubs eagle on youtube and that will explain it. He couldn’t have cared less about the tradition of the dance and I’m glad that he didn’t care. Because that goes down as one of my favorite memories I have with Tom.

He loved his family beyond what my words can describe. He was so excited to start a family with Jessa, and I’ll always remember the day he told me he and Jessa were pregnant. We were supposed to go out for Jessa’s birthday the night before and he informed me she wasn’t feeling well so they were just going to head home. He called me the next day to see if we wanted to go to Theresa’s to make it up to me (it’s one of his favorite restaurants, go there, order a burrito, thank him). I asked if she was feeling better, and she said, a little better. And he hinted, well she’ll be feeling this way for a little while. Puzzled, I asked, huh? He replied, because she’s pregnant!!! Immediate high fives for both of them. I’ll never forget the look on his face. He was exuberant. Smiling ear to ear. Not afraid, not doubtful. The joy in his eyes was pure. The day Penny was born (at least from my point of view) had to be the happiest day of his life, tied with the day he married Jessa.

Jessa, there wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t think about you. Even before you guys were dating, he went on and on about the awesomeness and wonder that is: Jessa. You guys were inseparable and meant for each other. And I want to thank you for taking care of my best friend. Thank you for being his rock.

Tom wasn’t much for tradition or etiquette. He made his own traditions, paved his own way. And I’m so thankful for that. I’m proud of you, Tom, for braving through this like you did, and for doing everything you could do to stay alive. I consider myself lucky to have even known you, let alone you being a huge part of my life. My heart breaks for you, most importantly Jessa, Penelope Irl, Cindy, Tom, Geoff, and Kelli, and of course each and every one of you who had the pleasure of knowing him. Tom, you’ll always be on my mind. I’m not saying goodbye just yet, because I am not ready to and I know you wouldn’t rush me. You are my role model, my inspiration, my brother, my friend, and I love you. You are now, and will always be, the man.

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