Today I learned that my friend TJ Luck passed away. I am reeling, and I am utterly overwhelmed by thoughts of him. Every person is of course irreplaceable... but there was truly NO ONE like TJ. He was universally adored due to his fabulous sense of humor, his easy personality, his warmth, his cleverness, his ability to perfectly mimic absolutely anything, his booming laugh, his cuddliness, his amazing singing voice. I never met a soul who didn't clamor to be in TJ's company, because when you were with him, you were always, always happy and laughing. He made everything fun. TJ was just unstoppable... and he was SO cool.
I had the great fortune to attend high school with TJ and to spend lots of time laughing with him in our mutual circle of friends. My prevailing memories of him from that time still make me smile and warm my heart no end:
For one of our high school classes, TJ gave a presentation on Queen Elizabeth I--and it was in song form, to the tune of the theme from Shaft. He somehow managed to squeeze a biography of the Virgin Queen into the song, in his best Isaac Hayes, with background music as if performing karaoke, replacing the chorus of "Shaft" with a high pitched "Liz!" and employing all of the most memorable parts of the original song to describe the 16th century monarch (I think I remember TJ telling me that he didn't get an excellent grade on this presentation--but he should have, as I'm certain it was permanently burned into all of his classmates' memories and gave us a lifelong appreciation of Liz, the Virgin Queen.)
I went to many concerts with TJ--one of them being a Bjork concert at the Capital Ballroom in DC. My whole family came to that show, in fact, including my little sister, who was a kid at the time and by far the tiniest person in the club. She had her hair tied up in Bjork's signature little knots and had glitter on her face: a miniature version of the musician. The show was of course packed, but my sister managed to make it to the front row on TJ's shoulders. He held her up there for the whole show; and Bjork even waved at the teeny version of herself bobbing on top of the crowd. That was such a sweet thing for TJ to do.
After high school TJ and I met up now and then, for a show or a gathering of old friends. He didn't change at all; he was always, always the coolest and funniest guy I knew. And then we fell out of touch for some years. Within the last few, I reconnected with him and his marvelous wife Courtney on Facebook. Say what you will about social networking sites--but I'm grateful for the contact they've allowed me to have with old friends, even if it's just silly comments and little messages back and forth. Seeing pictures of him again made me feel happy, and I tell you: TJ's huge personality was a wonderful thing to collide with again after being out of touch. We made some loose plans to get together the next time I was in Maryland, but we never had the chance before he died.
Today I've been sending notes to old friends from high school who all feel the same way: that it's absolutely unthinkable that we'll never laugh with TJ again, and that we'll cherish our memories of this unforgettable man.