I remember Sunday night, Nov 1, when I got the call. Our mutual friend, Rachel, called me after dinner and said “I wanted you to hear this from me and not just see it on Facebook. I have some bad news to share. Terry Waye passed away today. He was with his son at the Browns game.”
I remember, in that moment, the shock.
I remember that kneejerk feeling: Terry, my friend, I completely failed you. I am so sorry I failed you.
I remember being able to keep my composure for the remainder of that phone call and talking to my wife about what happened. At a certain point, I just couldn’t keep my composure anymore.
I remember talking about your passing with clients the next morning, clients who sadly never met you.
I remember posting a video to my clients about losing one of our own, the tragic way that you left this world, and a very frustrating, emotional plea to my clients: please take a look at your health…
I remember, once I posted that video, I couldn’t stop crying: “What do you mean I don’t ever get to see you again?”
I remember the first time we met, nine years ago. I was still relatively new with my business. As memory serves, you were referred to me from another client I had at the time. You were 44 years old then, your mother had just passed away from a heart attack two years prior.
I remember you telling me that at that point, you had lost and regained over 100 pounds twice. That it was time to get focused and get the weight off again so that life didn’t go for you as it did for your mother. I could tell how devastated you were to have lost her.
I remember marveling all those years ago about how much love you had for all those around you: your wife, your boys, your friends, your siblings. I could tell that behind that teddy bear exterior, was a man who loved life as it came to him and just wanted to be healthy enough to enjoy it all.
I remember that even then, nine years ago, we were still trying to pinpoint the motivation to succeed. We were both loving fathers and hard workers, we both cried that day during your initial consultation. I knew then, that more than anything in this world, I wanted to help you. I wanted to be the coach that helped you win.
I remember you first becoming a client, then very quickly a friend.
I remember that, as it happens in my line of work, you got very busy and had to stop training with me for a while. We stayed in touch, as you got to see my business grow by leaps and bounds, we would have periodic conversations and you’d tell me: I need to get back in with you, I just have a lot going on right now…
I remember that, true to your word, you did come back to work with me again. That was after we expanded the business and moved from location one to location two. It seemed you were reinvigorated and motivated again to start the weight loss journey once more.
I remember you were in more pain then, more physical pain. Your joints were starting to ache more, you had more muscular pains, all things you were attributing to being sedentary and not being focused on your weight loss.
I remember, again, we were trying to peel back the layers of: What will keep you motivated to succeed this time? We would get close. We’d share lots of conversations about life, work, priorities, food, wine, family, and you and I had a deep love of music. I loved talking about music with you.
I remember thinking (and telling you): Terry, I think I want you to be more successful than even you want to be. You laughed and said: Yeah, I know. You might be right…
I remember your life getting busy again and you had to drop off the roster. I know work and some personal things in life were tying up a lot of your attention. You promised you’d get started with me again in the future and you kept that promise.
I remember expanding from location two to location three and you and I were still in touch. You would read my blogs, you would engage in my posts on Facebook and you kept telling me: “I’ll be back.”
I remember getting that email from you. The one where you said you wanted to take a different approach this time. You knew how busy we were getting at the studio and so you made a special request. You asked if we could meet once a week so you could have some accountability with your goals. You were going to focus on food and exercise on your own, but you needed a sounding board to talk through the thoughts in your head and get a new game plan. By this point, you had lost both of your parents and you had experienced a health scare of your own.
I remember thinking: This is it. Terry’s ready. We’re going to see him succeed once and for all this time.
I remember you saying: “I need you to be blunt with me, Jason. Call me out. Don’t sugarcoat things. I know I need to get out of my head with some of my behaviors. I just feel like we’re together for a reason and that’s why I keep coming back to you.” I agreed. There was a reason you and I worked so well together. I loved you, I respected you, and I wanted so badly for you to get the weight off that you desired to so you could live the longest, healthiest life you could.
I remember us being more successful this go-round. More successful than we had been at any other point. I remember us talking about this in our meetings and in our emails.
I remember you starting to get side-tracked again with life. Historically, there was always a “distraction”. That could have been the stress with work, a personal issue to solve unrelated to health, or a project you were excited to be working. I called you out at one point and suggested: Terry, YOU are the project. Work on you. That’s a good project. “Yeah, I know.” you said. And I could tell, that at least momentarily, you were letting your gears spin on that one.
I remember that your love for your friends and your time of relaxation at your lake house was something to be admired and respected. You loved doing for others (almost to a fault). In our conversations, it was a case of “When I get finished with XYZ event/circumstance/holiday, I can get focused on myself again.” I pushed back at you again and I said “Terry, you know what they say on airplanes during the safety precautions? That in the event of emergency, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you take care of others. I need you to put your mask on.” That might have been one of the most impactful things I ever said to you. That one, in particular, stopped you in your tracks.
I remember you coming in for one of your consultations, and unbeknownst to me, but much to my happiness, you brought your wife, Debbie and your youngest son, Ethan, with you. I thought “Ok, he’s getting really serious now. He’s brought almost all of his family with him to see more about the work we’re doing together.”
I remember COVID hitting this year. You were the first of my clients to be diagnosed with it. I remember how ill you were and how much it threw you for a loop. I remember you talking about how some of the lingering effects of it was how it was affecting your memory. So much so, that you completely forgot about a couple of our sessions. That wasn’t like you but I understood you were in uncharted territories with that virus.
I remember you losing a good chunk of weight during that illness and we made a joke that perhaps that was the silver lining to kickstart the weight loss again.
I remember that as you got to feeling better, you got busier again: more work, more stress, more projects and our communication, while still intact was getting interrupted with a bit more frequency.
I remember reaching out to you, just a couple of weeks ago to see how you were doing. I missed seeing your face, the emails only accomplish so much. You were still active as client, just not as active with our consults. You said: “You’ve been on my mind a lot. I know I need to get in to see you.” That session never got booked.
I remember that Sunday night, November 1…that phone call.
Terry, a world without you is not a better world. It’s an emptier world. A world without your smile, your laugh, your conversations and the love for every soul around you, is not a better world. I hope you come across my Dad up there. I hope you tell some good jokes together. He may not be the Browns fan that you were but I’m sure you could share some great stories about the impact you had on the lives of everyone who met you.
I fucking hate that you’re gone. I hate that you won’t ever come through these doors again. That I won’t get to hug you again, tell you how proud I am of you again or that we won’t get to see that next milestone of weight loss.
I know that losing weight is not a cure-all for everything but damn if I don’t think that it could have kept you in this world days, weeks, years longer.
I write this, with the blessing of your wife, who I asked if I could commit something like this to the world. If I can’t be who I so desperately wanted to be in your life, the coach who helped crack the code for you, perhaps I can fulfill that role to your family. We can laugh about you, we can cry about you, we can all take care of ourselves in better ways in tribute to you.
I know I’m not alone with this empty feeling of a world without Terry Waye. I know I was privy to sides of you no one else could see because weight loss was a very personal, private thing. Thank you for at least letting me help to some extent.
I love you, Terry. Your friendship and support will never, ever be forgotten. I’m really going to miss you, brother.