***Note*** I wrote this, last year, in mourning of the loss of our dearest friend, Tammy Townsend, and wanted to publish it on my own blog as I thought of her.
This is a story about hope and the power of the human spirit. It may not end the way you want it so, if you’re into idyllic, fairy-tale endings, you may want to skip this.
It’s another day at the shop. We work at a motorcycle dealership and it’s one of the best in the business. The music is bumping and people are buzzing around, looking at the shiny pretty things that they want to ride/photograph/dream about. We barely notice the collectible Desmosedici RR that we walk past, ad nauseam.
This is jaded.
Her head is bald but you can’t tell if it’s a fashion choice or the side effect of chemotherapy. You can’t tell because she has more energy than you, and you are half her age. It’s got to be a fashion choice. Portland, man.
This is presumptuous.
The handsome fella who’s holding her hand has a heavy look in his eyes. He’s smiling but you can see the weight of the world on his shoulders even though he saunters around like he owns the joint. His eyes sparkle every time they look at her cute bald head. It’s not a fashion choice, you realize. Fucking cancer, man.
This is an awakening.
Her name is Tammy. She wants to go fast. I mean, really fast. Not like just down-the-street-doing-wheelies-fast, but “hey who’s the fastest cat on a motorcycle around here” kind of fast. She wants to set a world speed record kind of fast. She wants to leave tire-skid marks on the tarmac kind of fast. She wants to give cancer the big middle finger while hollering at the top of her lungs kind of fast. She wants to be on a sexy shiny Ducati on a world-renowned track kind of fast.
This is humbling.
There’s a resident fast-guy, Christian, at the shop. Every shop has one that claims to be good but this guy, with his perfectly trimmed and shaped handlebar mustache, is legit. He’s shaking with excitement at the prospect of showing Tammy around our local playground, Portland International Raceway. I volunteered my motorcycle (a Ducati Multistrada 1200S) for the job, because who doesn’t want to be a part of someone’s soul? Who doesn’t want to don a shiny armor suit and be the knight that rescues a fair damsel in distress? Fucking cancer, man.
This is anticipation.
Tammy conquered the track with the help of our fast-guy knight-in-worn-leather-suit and the shiny loud braaptastic Multistrada and, you know what, she conquered the cancer, too. All while laughing and smiling and being this sister we all wish we had. Patrick, her handsome other half, surprised her with a new shiny Ducati and grabbed one for himself too, and they showered the world with their presence and miraculous spirits and the world rejoiced. Tammy was a flight attendant in another life, so we all flew for Tammy. That’s the motto which was adopted by her adoring fans. “I fly for Tammy”. Flight Steward humor.
This is rejoice.
This is the part that hurts. This is the part that makes you ball up your fists, tightly, and curse at life. Fuck you for being unfair. The part that makes this author clench his jaws at the travesty of the whole thing. Through the social network of Facebook, the message was conveyed that the cancer has come back in force and she’s back in the hospital and it’s not looking good. The word hospice was thrown in the mix. The words “transition to God” were read with teary eyes that are trying to reconcile and not lose hope.
This is not fair.
How do you move on? In my humble opinion, you mourn and cry and lean on each other. You say things like “life is short so hug a stranger and love one another”. You see her and hear her in every corner of the shop that came to life whenever she came in, laughing and spreading her excitement and you get teary eyed. You try to be the person that she saw in you, kind and giving and human. You honor her by embodying the very essence that she made you feel you have, because you did a simple and kind thing for a simply kind person.
This is life.
May you rest in peace, sweet Tammy. We love you and wish to never forget you, through travel and exploration of life on this little blue planet.
This is the truth.