While people were stopping at the post office, going for a jog or getting ready for the holiday weekend, at a family was facing the unimaginable task of saying goodbye to their son.
Services for Tommy Tanski, 17, who died from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident on June 26, were held Friday. More than 250 people were in attendance, and the mood was sorrow mixed with celebration for a life full of love and smiles that was cut short.
The pallbearers, more than a half dozen, wore fluorescent orange hooded sweatshirt that said Tanski with the number '1' on the back. They also wore oversized, reflective sunglasses, an item Tanski was known to favor.
Pete Bruno read the eulogy, which was something Tanski wrote in which he wondered about the nature of happiness and the human spirit.
“… happiness is only held in the mind,” he wrote. It is up to us to decide how to proceed, was the message.
“The ability to love and accept that sometimes, most of the time, things aren’t fair,” he wrote, but our spirit and our ability to press forward in a positive way is what separates us from the ”whole animal kingdom.”
The Rev. Michael Whyte reflected on the love that was in the filled-to-capacity church. He said in such a short life Tanski demonstrated so much joy and love and the people in attendance reflected that.
“There are no words I can say that can change how you’re feeling today,” said Whyte.
He hoped that the words expressed on this day and the love in the room would carry the family in the days ahead.
He noted that the family chose, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” as the recessional hymn.
“They want us to leave this place with the same spirit Tommy had in him all the time,” he said.
Whyte said no one can know why a life is taken. He said doubts are OK, as are fear and anger.
“We don’t have answers to all the questions,” he said.
But he warned against letting doubt eat away to become an excuse for negativity.
“Don’t let sadness harden your hearts,” he said.
Whyte sent out a prayer for the healing of the other three boys involved in the crash. Austin Buckmann, 18, Zachary Fons, 18 and Tory Munson, 17. All three young men are from Simsbury.
He said to honor Tommy we should remember his joy and pass it on.
The reception area had poster board filled with photos of a smiling Tanski. Whyte said you can’t find a photo of him not smiling. Balloons and bowls of candy — Starburst and Skittles — greeted people as they entered.
The day was sunny as the crowd headed out for the burial, which followed the service at the Simsbury Cemetery.
Tanski leaves behind his parents, Tom Sr. and Christine, as well as two siblings — Jack, who is in ninth grade, and Faith, who is in fifth grade.
Police continue to investigate the one-car accident.
Friends have posted a hand-painted sign outside the high school that says, "Rest in Peace Tommy — Forever Loved." Tanski would have been a senior at Simsbury High School in the fall.
His obituary in the Hartford Courant stated that he was a member of the Simsbury Strikers Soccer Team and played freshman and JV soccer for the high school. During his free time he enjoyed long boarding, snow boarding, sharing music with his friends, and “raging” while playing Xbox.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Catherine of Siena Church, Tommy Tanski Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 184, West Simsbury, CT 06092. You can also visit his “Book of Memories” at www.vincentfuneralhome.com for online condolences.
In the obituary the family also wrote: “Dear “Ta-Ta”, I know you don't want this ... but I want everyone to know that my heart sings for you because you finally have what you've always wanted ... peace and the answers to all of your questions. Dad and I know that you are in Heaven with God and that you will be watching over us. Until we meet again, my beautiful, beautiful boy. You are now and will always be our angel. Love, Mom & Dad.”