How My Best Friend Tom Beat Cancer and Left Us with a Gift

I haven’t seen Tom Roady in years. We never picked up the phone to chat, nor did we email. We never met for coffee.

The only long conversation I had with Tom was almost 25 years ago.

So, you ask, how can he be my best friend? Well, as someone said today, Tom made everyone feel like his best friend.

Technically we were just acquaintances. Spiritually, we were best friends.

Spirituallyconnected by an affinity of the mind, spirit, or temperament

Back in the early days of our marriage, Larry was playing music out-of-town almost every weekend. The first time I went on a road gig with him, I was rather shy. (I know…hard to believe, huh?) There were about 20 orchestra members on this tour bus and with the exception of the chick singer, I was the only female. I knew a few of the guys pretty well, but still, I was the most recent person to marry into this family of musical friends.

Plus, there was no way I was going to use that bus bathroom.

Oh, the anxiety.

Tom seemed to sense this, (the social anxiety, not the tour bus potty anxiety) and began a conversation with me. I honestly can’t recall much about what we discussed beyond our creative fields, but for some reason, I felt an immediate connection with him.

Above all else, he made me laugh. Lordy, Tom was funny!

Over the years, he and Larry have worked together on gigs and in the studio. Most recently, Tom did some tracks for Larry’s album.

Last month, we received the sad news that Tom had stage four cancer. The outlook was not good, but Tom had a great attitude and faith.

This was gift #1 from Tom. He gave us an opportunity to be in touch. There was time to thank him for that one conversation and I told him how when I think of him, I smile and sometimes laugh out loud. I told him how it had been wonderful to witness his joy for music.

Seriously, the man looked so happy when he was doing his thing. And he did his thing well.

Much to our surprise, Tom passed away only weeks after the news of his cancer. But guess what? He didn’t die from cancer. He had a heart attack.

On a tour bus.

Peacefully, while sleeping.

After the shock, we laughed at how perfect this was…for Tom to die on his way to a gig. We think he would have laughed about it himself.

And the big gift he left us all?

Today, under the guise of a memorial service, Tom gave us a “family reunion” – a gathering of our musical family…rows upon rows of friends…some as close as can be, others just acquaintances or familiar faces, some of us married in, but none the less connected by way of Tom and his huge heart and his laughter, and the music he left behind.

I’m glad I knew you, Tom. RIP.

Tell those you love that you love them. Make peace with the others. Laugh often, enjoy good music and chat with people who look like they need a friend.


Libby Lu


8 thoughts on “How My Best Friend Tom Beat Cancer and Left Us with a Gift

  1. Once again you have brought me to tears. I love this post (including the use of the word “Lordy” which I thought only I said!) but especially the advice at the end. After a week of highs and lows (a successful book signing, a daughter in a car wreck, a daughter medically cleared), it really hit home. Thank you!

  2. Libby, I never had the opportunity of meeting Tom, but heard a lot about him from John. I know if it hadn’t been for the final Mini-Nutcracker on Sunday, that John would have been there at the memorial. I did know of his cancer, but had no idea he actually died from a heart attack, while peacefully sleeping. That is a wonderful thing to know! I know he will be terribly missed by so many, but it sounds like he left a legacy of warmth and friendship that will last a very long time.

    • You actually know him. You hear his music in so many songs! (wink) It was a warm celebration. You know how it is, when you are in a large room of creative people. The energy is amazing and uplifting.

  3. This is right on, and captures how many of us feel about Tom. I’m sorry i missed the ‘reunion’ – I did think about Tom and all of you yesterday. I’m sure he would’ve been pleased.

  4. Tom was THE most positive guy – even when we were dissing something or being sarcastic, he had a positive spin – hard to explain – I had a gig during the time of his ceremony, an excuse he would have COMPLETELY taken, I know. Miss him.

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