Tom Busch (1947-2010) was the general manager of KNOM (Yours for Western Alaska) for 30 years (1975- 2005), including the years that I worked there as deputy news director (2002-2004). He passed away in his sleep, likely of a heart attack, on what would have been his 63rd birthday.
The news stunned me and I felt confused, initially, as to what to do or who to call. I called a friend I knew would want to know. I called my husband. I called another friend. I went to the store to buy food and then I went to visit Tom's wife. Not being their pastor in this occasion freed me to do some of the helpful things that are usually outside my purview, because I have so many other tasks.
Tom's dedication to KNOM made the station what it is today- an award-winning radio station dedicated to inspiring and informing a significant portion of the population of Western Alaska.
Tom died in his sleep, the way we all want to go. But I keep thinking about his wife waking up next to him, not the way anyone wants to wake up in the morning.
It's hard after someone dies to think that things keep moving. How can you be expected to eat? To sleep? Why do things keep happening? Modern society isn't as patient with grief as it was in years past (centuries past) and we have fewer visible signs of mourning, though it goes on well beyond a few weeks or months.
On this All Saints Day, I think of Tom's work in Western Alaska and his well-deserved rest now among the saints in glory. I think of time stopping for him, even as it becomes eternal. And I think of time marching on for the rest of us, until we join him.
I want to say something profound, about the cloud of witnesses, about the chorus of angels, about the saints around the throne, but the words aren't there.
Right now, what I think is that it would have been nice to have Tom for a few more years, in the world that I'm sure of, the reality I know.
What I believe, what I hope is true, what I hang my heart on is the Holy Spirit, the communion of saints ad the life everlasting. (Abide with me, fast falls the eventide...)
Too soon, Tom, too soon. Rest in peace and in the light of God.
Or in KNOM hotline speak: RIP, Tom. We'll be coming soon. Don't forget to leave a light on for us. We're just running late. Love, all of us.