Eelco

I live in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands where my partner Bruce and I met Tim 15 years ago

In 2000, most of Europe switched over to a single currency, The Euro Tim was working for one of the biggest Dutch banks for six months to make sure this process went smoothly, and Tim's work there was, as far as I knew very successful.

Tim had a special place in all of our lives. Each of us saw different aspects of Tim, and I like the idea of sharing a few short stories that reflect the Tim each of us knew.

When I think of Tim, two things come immediately to mind On the one hand, the deeply caring and compassionate Tim who was there to hold my hand, or with a shoulder to comfort me.

On the other hand, there was the playful bantering Tim This playful teasing characterized Tim and my correspondence and conversations throughout the years.

I'd like to tell two short stories that reflect these two aspects of Tim.

First the playful, teasing Tim m 3 years older than Tim, a fact that he would never let me forget. He seemed to be able to find every opportunity he could to gently, or sometimes not so gently, remind me of this age difference. As I'm remind also pretty good at teasing people, we were well matched.

I remember a particular time we were out on my boat in the canals of Amsterdam when the motor stopped working. We paddled over to a nearby houseboat to ask for help. The was on his terrace there said he didn't guy who know anything about motors, but that he would be happy to have a look. Within a few minutes he had the motor running again. When commented to this guy "Hey, thought you didn't know anything about motors" he replied, "I don't, but I do know something about common sense". Tim started laughing when translated what the guy said, and since then Tim has found many many opportunities to remind me of my apparent lack of common sense.

This playful back and forth teasing was something that characterized most of our interactions.

But there was also the deeply caring Tim. A few years ago I met up with Tim in Philadelphia. was over for a conference and Tim made the trip down to Philadelphia early to meet me there. We were having dinner outside on a busy terrace in the sunshine. At some point as the conversation moved to some traumatic memories from n my youth, I started to cry. Tim, oblivious to the busy surroundings, moved over and put his arm around me to silently comfort me. At that moment I really felt Tim's unjudgemental caring and compassion. There was a quiet trust and understanding that was built up over the years Including the difficult period after Eathon's death.  Given the distance we only saw each other a few times a year, and with our busy lives we didn't necessarily phone every week, although we did usually text. But even with the physical distance, we did always somehow feel close. We felt like someone had our back.

My Tim stories were about compassion and common sense. Unfortunately, no amount of common sense helps us to understand what has happened to Tim at such a young age, at time when his life was going well. With these lovely stories and memories Tim can live in our hearts and for the kids through our stories. 

Love, 

Eelco

eelco_extra_1.JPG

Tina

Dear Avery, Lilah, and London,

I met your dad at Syracuse University 1984.  We lived on the same floor 3C Flint Hall. He was skinny and had a very bad mustache when I first met him! Over the 4 years at SU, Tim became one of my best friends. He even arranged for the first date I had with my now husband!! We shared lots of laughs - he made me laugh all the time! And he was also there for me during tough times when I couldn't afford to go anywhere for spring brewak (including going home to Chicago), Tim came and hung out with me.  We also lived in a house together on Cape Cod during 1986 summer.  We als0 worked as prep cooks at a pizza parlor in Dennisport.  We had an awful boss, "Rita", who we always made fun of! 

If there is one lesson I have learned it is you don't take friendships for granted.  Tim and I lost touch while I was raising my family in NJ and he was conquering finance in NYC.  But we reconnected a few years ago.  When we talked on the phone, it was like we never lost touch.  That's a sign of true friends.  We kept trying to get together but it never worked out.  My biggest regret is not making it happen.  I loved your dad.  I don't even know if he knew how much he meant to me. 

Your dad's greatest feature was his smile.  And I can see from all of your pictures that you (Avery) too, have that same amazing, joyful, smile.  I am thankful that you will cary Tim's light forward with it.  

Much Love,

Tina Avallone

Chef Rossi

Written and published for Huffington Post

What's in A Life

I have been pondering this question all week: "What's in a life?"

There has been a lot of death recently.

With the loss of the great, awe-inspiring Nelson Mandela, I found myself almost chanting, "This one man, one man, one man... changed the world!"

It made me feel as though my little footprint on this planet was nothing but a speck of sand blowing in the wind, but that was not the lesson of Nelson Mandela. I think his lesson was that all of our specks of sand can collectively make an avalanche of change.

Another of his lessons is the one about forgiveness. I must admit that's still a work in progress for me. But baby steps...

Six days after the passing of the great "Madiba" in my own sandbox, a kind and wonderful man named Tim Merrell, who was married to my dear friend José Rolon, died in his sleep.

He was 48 years old.

I first met Tim and José when they came to me to cater their wedding.

I have met a lot of couples in my 25 years of catering. (A girl loses count after a while.) Most of them really love each other. I said "most". But once in a while, I meet a couple who more than love each other. They have what I call "crazy, over-the-top love."

They have the kind of love that melts your heart.

Tim and José had that kind of love.

I was honored to be their wedding caterer and even more honored to stay in their life afterward. José decided to stay on in the wedding business, and we became good friends.

I didn't get to see Tim as much, but through José's loving eyes, I came to know Tim not just as a great husband but as an adoring father to their son Avery.

There was something about Tim that reminded me of Jimmy Stewart: kind and quirky, polite and dignified, with a roaring heart beneath the surface.

As I ponder this question "what's in a life?", I think of Jimmy Stewart in the movie that is so closely associated with Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life.

How many souls did Tim's old-fashioned charm and decency warm? How many emotional "Pottersvilles" would be out there, if not for him?

Tim and José's love could warm the soul of even the most homophobic person.

How many people think differently about same-sex marriage, about gay parenting, about the rights of gay people to live free and equal lives because of them? We will never know, but I suspect that it's a beach load of sand.


José and Tim's
Fantabulous Wedding at the Foundry
May 15th, 2010


Passed hors d'oeuvres
Vegetable empanadas with green apple chimichurri
Grilled Moroccan shrimp with mango ginger sauce
Pulled barbecue chicken on mini waffles
Wild mushroom wontons with red pepper miso dip
Ropa vieja on plantain crisps

The buffet supper
Pernil (roast pork shoulder, Puerto Rican style)
Chilean sea bass in Veracruz sauce (tomato, Spanish olives, capers and fresh oregano)
Arroz con gandules (pigeon peas and rice)
Oven barbecued early summer vegetables in cracked pepper and thyme (carrots, asparagus, squash and zucchini)
Baby lettuces with hearts of palm and summer tomatoes in honey, chili, lime sauce
Pull-apart biscuits and baby rolls with sweet butter

Later on
Coffee and tea station
Cupcake tower
The lovely mini dessert table

JoAnne

image.jpg

My friend Tim Dear Avery, London, and Lilah, 

There are so many fond memories I have of you dad Tim. He was as you can see from this He was also incredibly kind and caring. He was a wonderful friend, confidant and mentor. He always looked out for me, just as you can be sure he is watching over you. We laughed together and we cried together. Your dad knew me sometimes better than I even knew myself Here is one of many funny stories we have together. The Job Hunt Your dad and I worked together at ABN Amro Bank. We had been there about 5 years and one day he told me that another bank, Deutsche Bank, was hiring, and that the two should interview there for a job. wasn't sure about moving jobs, but Iwent on dad and a move to offers, but I still wasn't sure that I wanted to make this new bank. I kept putting off my Your how bad am about making these types of decisions for myself, and one morning l came to work and he came out of leave." I said, "What do you mean we have to leave?" (Oh l forgot to tell you that your Dad and l would sometimes play jokes on one another). He said to "We said What do you mean we He said to me, "You were taking too long to make a decision, and this is the best move for you, so I called Amsterdam (where our boss was located) this morning and quit for the two of up not to a your dad and I did have to leave that day. He was right, it was a good move for the two of us. We spent 10 Ove happy years at Deutsche bank and that was the only time in my life else quit a job for me O. (He's lucky him). 

BONUS STORY: We have a team member survey we complete every year and one of the questions is: “Do you have a best friend at work?” That is why in my slide I say he is my “YES Answer”.  If you have any questions about what I have here, let me know.

Love, Joanne Strobel-Cort

image.jpg

Cindy

image.jpg

My memories of Tim are many... From fabulous parties at the lofts, to fun drunk nights in the city, to planning the trip to South Africa or just hanging out with our friends. But the real memory of Tim that I hold closest is his laugh (and his beautiful smile). I can't say that there are many people in my life whose laugh comes through so clearly in my memory- not the way Tim's does. He laughed with his heart and his good nature always came across.

Whether it was when Tim & Jose first met and there was so much joy that passed between them (and a fair amount of teasing) or at their beautiful wedding or when they told me that they were going to try to have a kid... When Tim was in the room there was always laughter. His laugh filled the room and everyone around him felt his joy for life!

But certainly I think that Tim smiled and laughed most after Avery was born. He took to being a dad in a way that I think even surprised him. And he could be found sitting and holding Avery for hours with a smile that lit up the room and a laugh that let everyone around him know just how happy he was.

I miss you Tim and I'm so glad you were in my life... even though it wasn't long enough. Your smile and laughter live on in Avery. I so clearly see you in him!

Thank you for all of the light, love and laughter you brought to all of our lives!

David

Tim your love and light will always be seen for it shines luminous throughout the entirety of my friend, Jose's life and brightest in the eyes of your son.

I remember like yesterday...

Jose called to say he wanted to visit me at work, wanted to bring his new man and have a few drinks at the bar. I think you'd only been together a few weeks maybe and you both sat at the bar completely enraptured with each other. It was a joy watch. Your legs entwined, hands caressing as you both leaned so close listening to each other's words like each word was a sacred jewel.

I could see that for both of you the world had dissolved, nothing existed but the warmth and touch of the other, the attention and gaze of each other...

This was love blooming and it was so beautiful to watch. 

You drunk many martinis that night but truth be told you guys were already drunk on each other's hearts...

I realize now that the bubble of love and light that surrounded you that night grew to surround everyone that knew you and your love for each other made everyone feel their own hearts. I know it made me feel mine. 

Thank you Tim for allowing me to see something so beautiful but mostly, thank you for loving my friend, Jose.

Casey

In looking back just over 6 years ago when I was introduced to Tim...I still remember just how electrifying he made the room.  He had a presence, a gift that just had everyone in the room on their 'feet' with excitement.  He joked as if he knew us all for decades.  Life long friends. I left this work meeting remembering how great it was to meet someone that held so much passion and knowledge for what he was doing. He loved it! Tim and I continued to stay in touch for our work related follow ups and quickly built a friendship. What I always remember about Tim is that I never saw Tim angry or really upset.  He was always smiling ear to ear -- laughing.  Bringing others into the 'fun' of LIFE along with him.  As I came to know Tim more and understand his past life events I came to see him more as an inspiration of how to live, love and enjoy existing! Tim began to talk about Jose and their relationship quickly after we became friends and how it had changed him. Just mentioning the word Jose to Tim and his eyes lit up---he smiled so brilliantly at the promise of what he knew would be and was! I remember one work event that Tim and I attended and we spent the week sitting by each other each day and Tim began to talk about having a child. What it meant to him, how it scared him.  Very raw, true emotions and discussions were had that week. In all of that Tim's assessment of his situation with Jose and the promise and desire of a family was...'what the hell am I holding back for ... its time to do this and have a baby!!'  

I remember the discussion Tim and I had on this like it was yesterday...I can see Tim's animation, his smile, I can see his eyes and how they simply changed at the prospect of having a child. As Tim and Jose began the process time flew by and Tim and I came together again...another work related, industry event and nearly ready for their first baby...little Avery Walker. Tim sent out pictures, birth announcements and I just can't even describe how he changed...he was different...he and Jose were parents, married...things he always wanted, things he never thought he could or would have.  He had it -- he had life, he had love, he had a baby now! He was even more radiant, more energized on life!! Living. Loving his family. Avery was maybe 3 months old at this time and Tim was just in the clouds -- over the moon in love with his life! His family.  

I still remember the last time I saw Tim...we met for drinks in NYC after work and it was just the usual...walk in Tim is smiling ear to ear -- lit up and just so magnetic! We spent the entire time talking about Jose, Avery the thought of having more kids --- how scary that was --- would be! I remember saying to Tim...remember how scary it was to have Avery doesn't it scare you to do this again? His response was, never...everyday with Avery with our family makes me see...follow your heart follow your dream and what will be--will happen. 

I could write for days about Tim...I have honestly never met anyone like him.  He was a genuine, unique soul. I hate thinking about the moment, the day I received the call to call one of his co-workers immediately.  I was sitting at work in a video meeting. I knew and had a gut feeling something was amiss. I called her and the news was relayed...I nearly collapsed. I can't imagine the feelings Jose, Tim's family and closest friends and co-workers lived through. The next days were surreal...replaying Tim in my head. Attending Tim's service and celebration of life was nothing short of amazing. I was able to meet Jose and Avery for the first time -- see the family both the new and the lifelong that made Tim who he is who he was.  See how many people felt so similar about Tim and his heart, his life. 

I have had the privilege of being able to stay in touch with Jose and watch him raise their family even if just virtually for the most part...Avery, Lilah, London, Sasha, Nala, Kathy Griffin...watching Tim's family grow and adjust to a life that they never will know should have been.Yet, living life as Tim would expect them to. Jose you are doing an amazing job and it does take a village and you have that!!  

Today I remember Tim...I remember Tim so often! I remember his smile, his eyes and how bright they always were.  I remember receiving the news of the passing of a life lived well -- yet far too short! I constantly think about Jose, the children and how Jose will move onto new love and new adventures with a family that has to be!  Tim wants that, Tim would demand it!!! 

I will always remember Tim's dash...for that is the definition of who he is and who he was.  For its not the beginning and the end we should remember---its how we live, its how HE lived!  A life lived well.  Tim you are gone from us...but my friend, you are NEVER forgotten and NEVER will be.  

Jill

When I think of Tim, all I can think of is his beautiful contagious smile and the warm endearing way he would always listen.  He was always the first Zeta Psi brothers I met and I adored him.  He will forever live in my heart as my friend who brought me unconditional love and friendship.  

Love, 

Jill


Steven

The first time I met José we hit it off. How could you not hit it off with José? I just can’t imagine it. He is so warm and...well, just plain nice. It was supposed to be a business meeting. We did talk about business. However, instead of a discussion between colleagues, it felt more like a conversation between friends. And that’s what we became. 

We spoke for over an hour. The conversation was a mix of business and person- al. Both José and I live our business lives so it wasn’t a far stretch for our personal lives to enter the discussion. 

Still, without any uneasiness or hesitation, José naturally walked the talk
into his life outside of work... with his husband Tim. Over the coming months I would hear about Tim a lot. I found myself anxious to meet him. 

As the conversation continued into other areas, José brought up that he loves to smile. He went on to say he loves smiles. In fact, I remember exactly what he said; “Anyone who knows me, knows that I just love to smile... I love to show my happiness that way... I love other people’s smiles... period.” 

Close to a year later I was out in my neighborhood. José and Tim’s home is one neighborhood over from mine. From time to time I would run into José. At that point José and I were more friends than colleagues. We spoke and emailed about business plenty. But it was as friends- not individuals attempting to sell each other something. On this one particular day, José was not alone. He was with Tim and Avery and their dog, Sasha. I finally got to meet the famous Tim! Admittedly, at the time of the encounter I was thinking more about how I was not really fit to meet any- one at that moment- in the middle of a summer jog. However, now, as I think back on that day, I remember Tim’s smile. And then all I can think about are José’s feelings about smiles.

Tim had a great smile. It was big, and welcoming, and friendly. You could tell that Tim loved to smile and be happy. Tim had a genuine smile. Tim’s smile had power.

When someone passes away, their obituary usually says: “he is survived by...” I’ve never given that statement much thought. Tim is survived by José and Avery. In this case, I think it means Tim will live on. He will live on as José continues the life they planned together. And he will live on in Avery’s smile. 

There will be difficult times- especially in the beginning, I’m sure. But whenever life is the hardest, José can see Tim again- in Avery. And he can draw power from his smile. Period

Lori

What do we wish most for those we love? That they live a life free of suffering and pain. We want them to be healthy and happy. We never say it out loud, but we hope they pass away peacefully in their sleep, at an old age. 

I will never forget the night I got the call that Tim had died. I will never forget Christine's voice, or the way she held back her tears. Her quivering voice, and Jose in the background in pain. She had to share the thing we never want to say out loud.

The fact that Tim passed away in his sleep, was a small consolation. Essentially a newlywed, with his first child less than one year old and the recent news of twins on the way. One moment he was away overnight on business, having a deep and meaningful conversation on the phone with his husband, and the next he was gone from our lives forever. How could it be? How could this happen? It wasn't fair and we all wailed and screamed into our pillows. 

We held Jose, cried with him, and worried about the future. We mourned not only the loss of Tim, but also all of Tim's losses as a result. He would not live to see his children grow up, and he would not live to grow old with his husband. 

Time has given the space needed to find calmer waters and feel peace in moments we least expect it. Sorrow washes over us in waves, and crashes down sometimes when when least expect that too. We all grasp for answers, hoping this tragedy will teach us something.

What it taught me hard and fast was this:

Tell the people you love that you love them whenever you want to, whenever you feel like it, don't hold back.

Kiss and hug your children all the time.

Live the cliché and enjoy your life, every moment or as many moments as you can muster.

Try to embrace your joy, and stop putting things off for later. 

Be in your sadness when it comes, and don't push it away.

On the anniversary of that painful day, I will use my checklist above. I will think of Tim, the place he is buried, the tulip tree near his grave, his husband who I adore and his beautiful children's smiles. And of course I will think of his own amazing smile, which traveled across his face and made his eyes sparkle.

Leah

When Tim died, I tried writing down my feelings but couldn't.  He had so much to live for and his death felt so cruel.  

Two years later, it's still difficult to contemplate.  Tim was funny, playful, generous, kind, loving and thoughtful among 

many other things.  I feel grateful that I had him as a dear friend for almost 28 years.

Ryan

Dear Tim, 

A moment that we shared that I loved was when you and Jose started dating.  We were introduced and we talked for quite a while and I asked, “you want to have some fun and play a little trick on Jose?” With a sparkle in your eye and a mischievous smile you agreed and I knew I had a partner in crime!

I told you that Jose for sure would ask what we had talked about…and to act awkward. I don’t think I made it home before Jose rang my phone, “WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HIM?!!!” He was so turned up and we couldn’t even convince him it was a joke! It was so funny. From that moment on we had a brotherhood based on knowing Jose’s “attributes.” And on my visits we would look at each other with devilish smiles when Jose wasn’t watching…or when he was! And your eyes sparkled.

I also remember how sweet and caring you were after my father passed. You really comforted me. You left the world too soon and your son Avery, 8 months old, cracked open this busy guy’s heart and taught me to slow down, to play and to love. Two of my favorite things about him are the sparkle in his eye and devilish half smile that appears on his face when his wheels are turning…both gifts from you that remain here so that we think of you often.

Roey

You are missed. I'm not sure I will ever make sense of you leaving this world when you did. I try to think of you as an angel of God and that some sort of balance is restored having a beautiful, pure, kind, happy, peaceful should like you watching over us. I promise you I will be there for Jose and Avery for as long as I live. Loving them and supporting them through anything and everything. I pray to find a love like you and Jose had fro one another and the love you had for Avery. To witness that kind of love and commitment has change me. Your passing won't be in vein. I will try to experience life as you did. Fearlessly and open to all life's adventures and experiences.

It comforts me to close my eyes and think of the Jose success that he's worked so hard for and to visualize Avery as an adult being in love and growing to be beautiful kind man and pure reflection of you. Avery will feel loved everyday of his life and although you won't be physically present for his first words, his first love, his firs bruise or broken heart - he will carry you with him everyday and he will smile brighter because of that and cope because of the strength that you and Jose shared. I wish you could've told you how much i appreciate you and what you've given to my best friend. I hope he doesn't lose that light he has always carried. Please tell him you're OK, help him find peace in this tragedy. I will see you 60+ years! I hope you'll greet me into heaven with that infectious smile.

Your husband's #workwife, Roey

Guy David

I took Tim to Le Marais in Paris, a beautiful quarter in the center of Paris which also is the place with gay bars. We took one last drink and missed the last metro. I had forgotten how absurd it is to be in the streets of Paris on Saturday night after 2am: just impossible to get a taxi, everyone walks everywhere and you try to be the first when you see a taxi. So we walked, Tim's hotel was in the 18th arrondissement, in Montmartre, and I live in the 17th, very close. It would take us about one hour. And it was in fact very pleasant. We spoke. And there were others on the streets walking. Tim wanted to piss and he felt very unsure about the treeI proposed to him. I had to warn him if any one was coming. And just when he started to piss, there was something like a dozen kids who came from nowhere, from the corner, and walked passed him. It was just like unreal, all of a sudden, a crowd, and only just then.

My second thought is shorter: I just loved during our stupid conferences to get an sms from Tim saying "Behave!"

Ranardo

Keeping your memory alive is not a difficult task nor is it a forced thought. The impression you left in my heart with respects to the love you so deeply gave to my friend Jose' is everlasting. Working with you two on your wedding first dance are moments I will always cherish. You impressed me with that one; the making of a dancer! You watch over a beautiful family. We see you always. 
Your presence will always be "Felt"; It's not the born date nor the passed date that we hold onto but the space between, the "Dash Between". (a piece choreographed on my company VCB by me and dedicated to you).
Many blessings to you Tim and your family. 
Always, Ranardo