There’s so much I never got to tell him.
I mean, I've never actually talked to Tom Petty before, but what if I HAD? There’s so much we could have talked about. There’s so much he would’ve liked to have known.
Now he never will.
All those times I thought of telling him what he meant to me, but didn’t. All the times I told myself, “Life is short. You don’t know how much time you and Tom Petty have left.” If only I had taken more seriously the words of that old poem, “Tom Petty Burns at Both Ends and Will Not Last the Night.”
I don’t know why, but I’ve always imagined us eating ribs together.
Now, looking back, my entire life seems like an endless, tragic parade of missed opportunities. If only I hadn’t made excuses – if only I could have been honest enough to share the contents of my heart.
What is it in life that keeps us from telling Tom Petty how we feel? How many instances do we think, “I’m sure there will be lots of chances to tell Tom Petty the story about how ‘Wildflowers' helped me get through that breakup with Thad Cogshell in the 7th grade”? And how many times did it almost burst from our lips, “My mom used to have the same haircut as you in 1978 but it looked way better on you,” but something holds us back?
Fear – fear is what it is. And did Tom Petty let fear hold HIM back? Oh HECK no! I don’t know if you knew this about Tom Petty, but he would NOT back down. You could stand that mofo up at the gates of hell and he wouldn’t back down. I just learned that from someone’s Facebook update.
I wish I could say the same. If only–
–Hang on a sec. My mom is calling.
OK, sorry about that. She probably just wants to tell me some stupid shit. I’ll call her later.
So anyway: Tom Petty. I just feel like, when he was born, somehow his soul split into two and part of it became my soul. But I wasn’t born until years later, so he had to live for like, 25 years with only half a soul. And THEN, once that soul was born upon this Earth, did he know? Could he feel it? He must have. It’s almost like we shared one brain. It’s like he says in that one song – that song I basically could have written all on my own since we were like the same person. What’s the name of it? I’ll remember it in a sec.
And, had we found each other, who knows what sort of memories we could have made together? I don’t know why, but I’ve always imagined us eating ribs together. I just learned that he didn’t eat meat, but how does that change anything, really? I’m sure that I could have made some really great tofu ribs just for Tom Petty. He would have loved them, because I loved him so much, and he would’ve felt the love in those almost-meat riblets. Also, I’m not saying that he would have kicked his heroin habit sooner if I had met him, but, I’m just saying, hey, you never know.
God, I miss him so much.
It seems like it was just a couple of weeks ago – actually, it WAS only a couple of weeks ago; grief has really warped my sense of time – that I was saying to my friend Shelley, “Now, who is Tom Petty, again?” And she said, “You remember that guy who made that weird video where they were eating a cake that was really a girl?” And I was like, “Oh yeah, that gave me nightmares for years.” And that’s when I made the connection that this Tom Petty was the same Tom Petty who wrote “Wildflowers” and then my brain – and my heart – exploded.
And now, here we are, only weeks into the part of my life when I remembered who Tom Petty was, and he was taken from me. I guess I’ll never know why but, more tragically, Tom will never know that I was taken from him. Think about that for a second. Some people may say that I was only a fair-weather fan, but I challenge those to look inside and ask – isn’t “fair” weather the best kind of weather?
What it really does is make me want to create – I want to write a song. I think I’ll call it “Last Dance with Tom Petty.” I feel like that reminds me of something but I can’t quite put my finger on what.
Oh I just remembered – did you know that Tom Petty’s P90x instructor used to go to the same Starbucks as my cousin Jerry? It’s almost spooky now, in retrospect.
So, Tom, I hope you don’t go to the gates of hell – I hope you go to the gates of HEAVEN. And I hope you don’t make a big deal of not backing down because, frankly, it would be embarrassing. If they let you in heaven, you should probably just go for it. They might get offended if you turn down their first offer so don’t spend too much time thinking about it.
And also, don’t spend too much time thinking about me. I know there are ballet recitals, Indian lunch buffets, and Happy Honda Days that we will never get to share, but we can’t dwell on that now. In fact, we will never get to share anything ever, ever again.
So basically, it’ll just be like it always was. Forever.
That’s it – it’s time for me to start talking to Bono again. It’s been over 20 years and true friendship should be able to overlook a little thing like a civil harassment restraining order.