Yesterday was a tough day! Not long after arriving at work, Neal called to tell me that one of his closest coworkers had died of a heart attack over the weekend. He was just 39 years old and left behind a wife and a young daughter.
As Neal tried to put words together to tell me what had happened, I knew it was something bad and the first thing that popped into my head was, “please don’t let it be anything with Thad”. Hearing Thad’s name brought me to tears. Thad was an amazing man, but my words won’t do him justice. Neal is an economist by day, but by night, he is a published author. I knew Neal would start to find healing by writing and I wanted to share the words he shared on Facebook last night with you all. This life is precious and the reminders of that are painful.
Take the time to slow down, to share your love with those around you, and to treasure each moment with your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors!
God bless you, Thad!
“I rarely go to Facebook to vent or for sympathy or anything like that, but today has been a very, very tough day for me. There are three guys at work that I’d consider friends…people I love talking sports with and so forth. I came in to work this morning after a long holiday weekend to find that one of my best work friends, Thaddious Foster, died suddenly over the break.
Thad was 39 years old, not far off from my age. He appeared to be in as good of health as I am or anyone else I know. Like me, he had a wife and a young daughter. I was literally just talking with him a few days ago…he made a trip back home to Alabama to see his family. While driving his car, he apparently had a heart attack. And that was it.
Thad was one of the nicest, kindest guys I knew, and I loved talking sports with him. After Iowa beat Michigan this weekend, he was one of the guys I looked forward to seeing in the office to joke and talk about it. We’d regularly talk about our teams: Iowa and Auburn, the Nats and the Braves. He was always smiling and in a good mood, and he had the best laugh in the office.
Thad got into football officiating several years ago as a field judge. He started out doing some lower-level college games, and he was looking to move up in 2012 when the NFL strike hit. He was tabbed as one of the NFL’s much-maligned “replacement refs” during the ref strike, and he found himself on the “A-team” for the replacement officials.
Thad officiated the first regular season NFL game in 2012 that used replacement refs, and the replacement refs were such a big story that offseason that the whole sport was scrutinizing his every move. But Thad and his crew held up well…he did an awesome job and the game went off without a hitch. Many fans and talking heads were waiting to pounce on any mistake he might have made, but in the end, even the skeptics had to agree that he did an awesome job.
Other replacement refs didn’t fare so well, of course, and the strike quickly ended a few weeks later. But Thad made such an impression that the NFL still rotated him into games here and there, grooming him to one day become a full-time regular while he continued to work some college games. The photo
below above is Thad in action from his first NFL game in 2012: New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys. That’s Thad the ref…but I feel bad from that photo that you can’t see his smile or hear his laugh. You’re missing out there.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Thad Foster was a great guy, and I’m going to miss my friend. And it’s such a gut punch to see someone so young – someone my own age – gone so soon, without any warning.
So let this be another reminder, one that we so often get from time to time, to cherish every day. We think we know roughly how many we’re going to get, but not all of us are right about that. So don’t waste even one. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by petty stuff – and heaven knows I’m as guilty as anyone on that front sometimes – because it’s just not worth your time.
I’m not looking for attention or anything with this post…just sharing a quick story about a guy I’m really, really going to miss. God bless you, Thad.”