Sunday, May 20, 2018

A son and daughter send a Father's Day message of love to the late Terry Tomalin

Dear Dad,

When we sat down to write this letter to you, we took time to reflect on all the years we spent together and the 12 months we've now spent apart. We have so many things to tell you, but as we sit to write this we find ourselves at a loss for words. You see, although we have so much we would like to share with you … fun and funny things you've missed, sad times you would have made better, accomplishments and challenges you would have understood best … the emotions we feel about all of these things cannot be captured in a bunch of words. There is not enough paper or pages to explain how much we miss you. We never noticed how much happens in 12 months until you weren't here to share it all with us.


Kai Tomalin, 16, left, and Nia Tomalin, 13, stand near a live oak tree on Friday (6/17/17) which they planted last year at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, a 245-acre protected area in St. Petersburg, in memory of their father, Terry Tomalin, outdoors editor at the Tampa Bay Times (picture, center), who died suddenly one year ago after suffering a heart attack. He was 55. Tomalin had been at the North Shore Aquatic Center in St. Petersburg with Kai; the two were taking a life guarding test together. He collapsed and never regained consciousness.

Eventually we decided that the most important thing we needed to say to you is, "Thank you."

While you were with us you gave us so many gifts and memories. You spent time exposing us to the beauty and wonder of all the things nature has to offer. You took us on countless adventures and instilled in us a love and reverence for life that is beyond words and guides us still. Every day.

In the time we spent together you prepared us for the challenges we would face, and this is why we are able to make it without you here beside us. Although you may not be here physically, we still see you and feel your presence all around us. We hear your voice. We see your strength.


An anhinga rests on a branch on Lake Maggiore Island on Friday (6/17/17) at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg. Terry Tomalin frequently visited the park with his son, Kai Tomalin, and daughter, Nia Tomalin. "He called this place the 'church of the great outdoors,' " Kai said of Terry.

We feel your love. In the sea, in the wind, in our hearts. You taught us that with great power comes great responsibility. This is a lesson we will never forget.

We are so grateful to have had you in our lives. The love we feel for you transcends time and makes these past 12 months feel like forever and no time at all. We are certain we will see each other again. Until then, we wish you good paddles.

Thank you, Dad.

Strength and honor,

Kai & Nia

Terry Tomalin, the longtime outdoors editor at the Tampa Bay Times, died suddenly one year ago after suffering a heart attack. He was 55. His children — Kai, 16, and Nia, 13 — were his constant companions, comrades in adventure. His spirit guides their continuing journeys, and their love of adventure knows no end.


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