Letter: Do not wait to measure the love in your life through its loss
People say that the most painful goodbyes are the ones we don’t get a chance to put into words. When loss sneaks up on us, we don’t have time to defend against it. In the end, the survivors of loss are left with only our confusion, our memories and the words we never said.
On Friday afternoon, Steamboat Springs lost Dr. Thomas Traynor. Tom took his life by his own hand.
As some of the people Tom left behind, the words we have for him are not ones of pain or anger. They are words of love.
Tom was a man of fierce individualism, intellect and courage. He collected knowledge as enthusiastically as he collected cookie jars. Beyond everything else, he was compassionate.
If a life is measured in the lives we influence, Tom’s life is immeasurable. He dedicated his career to benefiting the people around him. In many ways, Tom’s benevolence through his work defined him.
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Throughout the course of his career, Dr. Tom Traynor helped thousands of people. As the clinical director of Steamboat Mental Health, now MindSprings, he helped establish the very first mental health resources in this community. He went on to found the first and oldest private practice in Steamboat, which eventually became the Psychotherapy Offices.
Additionally, he mentored and supported dozens of therapists in our community. Many in our town know him best from his work with the Routt County Alcohol Council, a nonprofit he formed in 1976 to pioneer a new cognitive behavioral approach to addiction treatment in Colorado. Tom even developed the first Employee Assistance Programs in Steamboat to support our work force, providing an avenue for assistance to those who otherwise would not have those resources.
Tom Traynor left behind a legacy that lives beyond him. He left behind his kindness and his humor. He left behind his wisdom. He left behind a community that loved him.
We hope this tragedy can be seen as a reason to preserve Tom’s vision. Because Tom saw the world beyond what it was; he saw it as it could be.
One of Tom’s favorite sayings was, “You don’t have to believe everything you think.”
We all think things are too much for us at times. But please know that you do not need to believe that to be true.
So these are our final words — the words we never got to say to Tom — but want to say to the community he cared for so deeply.
For those of you going through it, keep going. Reach out to the people in your life. Know that your needs will change as you do. Know that your burden can be lightened.
But above all — do not wait to measure the love in your life through its loss. Embrace the love in your life now. A heavy load can be made so much lighter in the hands of those around you.
Together, we can preserve Tom’s legacy of kindness in this world. It’s a legacy worth fighting for.
As Tom’s colleagues and friends, we want to thank him for sharing all that he did throughout our years together. We love you, we miss you, and we will carry you with us.
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