Loving, gregarious, exuberant, captivating, humorous
“Once you met Thomas, you didn’t forget him,” his mother said. He was fun-loving, energetic and lived more life in his 33 years than most people did in living to an old age. He loved his family and his many friends and they enjoyed his quick wit, his loveable sarcasm and funny comebacks.
Thomas was a Registered Nurse, and passionate about his work in the emergency room. He liked the fast pace and variety of patients that allowed him to utilize his varied skills. He especially loved caring for children and they were responsive to his obvious investment in their well-being. Thomas was also passionate about surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding. He moved to Colorado to teach snowboarding to kids. After a year, he moved back to Wrightsville Beach to be near his grandparents and attend nursing school where Thomas was voted by his peers to be the speaker at the commencement program.
Another motive for the move to Wrightsville Beach was Thomas’s love of surfing. If there were waves and Thomas wasn’t working, he was in the water. If there were no waves, he would fish or walk the beach, picking up shells and sharks teeth or fly the remote controlled planes that he built. Other times you could find him reading or working crossword puzzles.
There was really nothing Thomas was afraid to do or face, including finding a way to reinstate his nursing license after a misdemeanor drug charge. He went to rehab, and during his two year probation was committed to doing everything required of him. He was free of opioids and all other illegal drugs. His death was due to an overdose of a legal substance used to lower the desire for opiates. His mother, Susan, said: “Even though substance abuse robbed Thomas of the rest of his life, the drive and motivation he had to be substance free and the work he put into getting his nursing license back are incredible accomplishments.” He also supported a lot of others in their sobriety. At his celebration of life ceremony story after story was shared about the depth of his support, generosity and friendship.
Susan misses his calls, his beautiful blue eyes, his offbeat sense of humor and his hugs. The family gathers on Thomas’s birthday to celebrate his life and share in his favorite meal – his mom’s lasagna and chocolate cake they call “Dee cake” in the family.
Though Susan has a lot to be grateful for in her daughters, grandchildren and husband, she said: “Losing Thomas has changed my life forever.” She attends a support group for people who have lost loved ones due to substance use and has learned a lot about his illness. “I want people to know him – to know that he was a loving, enthusiastic, smart and motivated person with a sincere zest for life. It is my hope that through hearing Thomas’s story, others will realize that addiction knows no boundaries and we need to work to reduce the stigma and focus on helping people overcome this life-threatening disease.”
Thomas’s mother, Susan Edwards, provided the information for this narrative.
October 29, 1983-May 24, 2017
Age 33 – Lived with addiction 5 years