I ran into someone I used to work with while I was out shopping. After telling me that she had quit a short time ago, we talked about what we were doing now then caught up on some the people we had worked with.
Then she asked me if I had heard about Tammy, No I said as I tried to put a face to the name, she said, “you know, Tammy from flooring” Instantly I knew and I thought I knew what was coming next. Her husband had discovered that he had cancer in his neck and that it was very advanced. Special trips to Duke, radiation, chemo, I never thought he would survive. Each day brought a new injustice. It was so difficult to watch her suffer as she described his pain because she obviously loved him so much.
I had met Tammy the first time when I participated in the Lowes Women build for Habitat for Humanity. She was working at a different store at that time, and a few months later she transferred to the store when I was working. I had never said to her that I was trans, but when I did it didn’t matter, she accepted me as me, with no judgement. When I was dealing with depression, and this is at the same time that she was dealing with her husband’s illness, she came to me one day and sat down at my desk and said, “You’re not yourself lately, tell me what’s bothering you.”
I denied there was a problem but she was insistent. We spoke for quite a while and I opened up to her, shed a few tears about my life and the problems I was having. She was so supportive, her words calming and measured and all this while dealing with a husband I’m sure she felt would ultimately lose his battle.
When I said to Kelly, “no I hadn’t heard about Tammy” she said, “she passed away.
That can’t be right, I thought, I must have heard that wrong, but no, there she said it again. That can’t be true, she couldn’t have been more than.
39 said Kelly beating me to the finish.
I stood, my mouth hanging open, rummaging around in my memories for the stories, for the look of her face. Remembering the kindness she showed me, remembering the care that she that she showed for her husband. The help she gave freely to those that she worked with. Such a loss to the world. In a twist of irony, it appears that her husband is doing much better and will survive his ordeal but he will have to carry on without Tammy.
A post script to this story is my disappointment in the people that I used to work with. A number of them have my number but even though they knew I was close to her, no one called. It just confirms my opinion that friendships developed from working with people don’t survive past the end of the job. Oh well.
Rest in Peace Tammy