Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Yesterday's Sky - A tribute to my friend, Tammy
Yesterday, as I sat in the parking lot of Kroger while my husband ran in for a couple ingredients, I looked up at the sky and saw that it was perfectly cloudless and such a beautiful color. I snapped a photo of it with the new fancy phone I still can't figure out and when I viewed it on screen it I noticed a tiny speck of white, the moon, and that made me smile. I didn't know it, then, but my friend Tammy was spending her last day on Earth. This morning, she passed away. I think she would have loved that photo but I'm not certain why I think that. I might just be projecting. She was always the first to rush to my private blog to see photos of my granddaughter, though.
Tammy and I circled around each other in various online book groups for many years, in the 90s, before settling into a group where we became better acquainted. We met in Nashville when my son and daughter-in-law were living there. Tammy took a blurry selfie of us and I don't know what's become of it. The thought that it would be nice to find that photo has slanted in and out of my mind in between moments of tears and quiet reflection, today. Other friends who met her in person have posted photos of their get-togethers. Funny how you cling to or crave that one token when you lose someone.
Tammy was a book blogger, a teacher, a mother, a wife. She loved music. When she was young, she memorized all of the kings and queens of England and she had continued to embrace her love of history. Her favorite time periods were the Medieval age and WWII. She collected dolls and Coca-Cola memorabilia. She married her high school sweetheart, stayed happily married the rest of her life, and was so very, very proud of her daughters. She called the three black cats who followed her around the house, "My entourage." She had dreams so vivid that when she woke up she felt like she'd taken a trip to the theater. I wish I knew more about her.
When we met at Parnassus Books, we walked around looking at books for a bit, but then we sat down and focused on each other. We talked mostly about our families and life. She was kind and big-hearted with a wonderful stubborn streak. I don't know anyone who ever upset Tammy but I wouldn't have wanted to cross her.
I never spoke to Tammy on the phone but she always wrote me privately when I was going through some sort of hardship and I hope I was half the friend to her that she was to me. Hearing about her death has made me teary and numb and shocked and reflective. Last year, when my attempt to write fiction daily went sour and I considered giving up, Tammy cheered me on. It was a mutual obsession; she was an excellent writer and hoped to write a book of her own. I've written several but didn't think any of them were good enough to polish for publication. I wish, now, that I'd sent her some excerpts to ask her opinion.
This afternoon, after a lot of tears, I took a walk around my neighborhood. My husband was still home when I got the news, this morning. Before he left, he said, "Don't stay indoors. Go get a taco." So, I'd gone out for fast food. When I decided to take that walk, I couldn't find my new sunglasses. After I looked around a bit, I gave up and put on my old ones. I walked around the block twice with my new sunglasses on my face and my old sunglasses perched on top of my head. Grief makes you stupid. I'm going to take a few days off from the blog to try to unstupid myself, but in the meantime, I just want to send my thanks out to the universe. I'm so grateful that I got to know such a kind, gracious, generous, lovely person.
Tammy touched a lot of lives. Those of us who were in book groups together have been banding together, giving each other long-distance hugs, wishing we could be in the same city (or, even the same state -- therein lies the trouble with distant friendship) to raise a glass together or light a candle.
Goodbye, my friend. You will be missed.
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