***This post is dedicated to my friend Tammy Mayes Gioia, who certainly took life by the horns and dragged it all over the map.  I love you, Tam.  JUBS forever.***

I started to write this in a far too somber space. Not the room, mind you.  My head. For days I’ve been crying about I miss you’s, and what if’s, and remembering when dropping my son at school, that my friend will not be there to teach me the unwritten drop off etiquette for parents (now THAT was a fun one.)

Crying because the words would just not come, I had to hand it over to Tammy (I’ll always love you, girl.)  I say this because I was inasmuch writing a eulogy here… Not trying to, but it was a morbid testament to how many lives she touched…  How many would miss her…  How the “C” word sucks and why can’t it just implode and leave everybody alone?

I was telling you about my friend, laid to rest just two days ago, and how she effected the lives of too many people to tag, to count, to fathom. And I thought when I started plucking away at the keyboard, it should be as such.  It should be sad and make you feel as bad as the hundreds of people that will miss her so much. It should be a piece that is melancholy, somber, because I am … it should be about death, because that’s what I should be thinking… no?  So yeah, this piece was to be the truth, about how everyone on the planet will miss her.  About what a beautiful person, heart and soul, she was. And about how I’m so sorry, and the guilt I feel because I missed her for the last — God — ten months because I was so self absorbed in my own little day to day life that I put everyone I loved on the back burner.

And as I sat here, tears of gloom and doom falling in rivers down my face, a picture popped into my head — a picture of me and Tammy, first day in Jamaica 3 years ago, orange palms to the camera, showing the rest of the girls proof that self tanning does not work.  And I started to laugh. I swear to you, as these words trickle onto this page, this was the work of one beautiful soul, Tammy Mayes Gioia, getting in my head and telling me to stop being sad and write her as she wants everyone to remember her:  Laughing, loving, and living life to the fullest.  YOLO!

There’s not many people whom I can say inspire me in this life.  A few, at best. (Of course there’s Billy Joel who inspires me to sing at the top of my lungs while navigating my trusty mini van… Michael Jackson, who inspires me to chair dance with my son on the drive to school, and Miley Cyrus who inspires me to…  vomit.) But none so far has inspired me like Tammy Gioia.  In life, and in passing, Tammy made me want to be a better person.  Let me explain.

There are people whom you meet in your lifetime who are nice.  They are kind, and thoughtful. They put on their nice faces when they have to, and their thoughtful faces when it merits. We’ve all met these people, some of us are these people.  Tammy was not.  She was genuine.  You knew when she was kind and thoughtful, she was really kind and thoughtful.  Even when you walked away.  Never a double face, always a smile. Inspiration.

A smile, a laugh, a kind word.  These are the things that I will always remember.  Good advice. Love for family.  Sharing a sense of humor that– well– isn’t always funny to others– hence “JUBS– Just Us Bitches” (holla! Heidi Seelbach and Jackie Cooke, and charter member Lori Lahey.)  [As a side note, the last time I texted Tammy and company, although we hadn’t seen each other in months, I said, and I quote, “Sean and I are going to Splash Down… any of you bitches and your spawn care to join us?”  And she simply responded “I miss you, Wajda,” and I could hear the laugh behind the words. I still can. It’s funny how I didn’t give it a second thought until I knew I wouldn’t hear it anymore. And yeah…  that sucks.]

The point?  Tammy let you be yourself.  She was gracious.  She was strong, and the most positive person I will ever have the privilege of knowing.  She let you be comfortable in your own skin…  Inspiration.

She listened.  Not just to take her turn at speaking.  A genuine, true, kind-hearted soul, she truly wanted to hear what you had to say.

She lived life like there was no tomorrow. Gave meaning to the acronym — You Only Live Once.  But do you? Because in my mind, and in the minds of many I’m sure, Tammy will live forever.  She will never be gone.  She touched too many lives to just up and go, and too many people loved her that won’t let her be left behind in the busy day to day thing we call life…  Inspiration?  Yes.

And this is the part where I went back in my head.  🙁

The truth is, you do only live once.  Make it count.  Be kind.  Be thoughtful. Be funny, and daring, and don’t gossip.  Be nice to people.  Love. Love hard.  Be loyal. Be a friend. Live.

I haven’t picked up a pen to write in months. Today I couldn’t keep it quiet. Again comes the inspiration to follow my dream, to do what I was meant to do, to have the courage to fight through the self doubts and just do it. To write again, just because I want to and it’s the thing I love… (yolo).

I miss you Tammy.  I always will, along with many, many others.  Even now, very fresh and raw, the thought of you can only make me smile, and laugh, and remember times when you had no pain and we toasted to the JUBS and laughed and talked about fuzzy socks…. And thanks.  For everything. You will never be forgotten.

And, oh yeah… YOLO! Remember it.


Love Always,