Thursday, November 8, 2007

Season, Reason or a Lifetime?

They say people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Somehow I tend to lump my friends into one of those categories. For example, I have a friend Misty, who I have known and kept in touch with since elementary school. I consider her to be someone I will know for the rest of my life. Yes, we disagree on a lot of things but in the end, we are still there for each other.

The friends who have drifted into my life for a season or two, such as co-workers or friends of friends, if I don't hear from them in years, that is ok. I know they are living their lives and should we pass each other on a street, we will stop and catch up.

The ones who come into my life for a reason are the ones who have taught me something. The lessons I have learned are usually something I can apply to my other relationships.

Today, as is my morning habit, I was reading the paper. (Ok, it's on the computer, but I still call it the paper). I always look in the obituaries, not sure why, guess I'm just morbid that way. And looking back at me was someone who I have thought of many times, but had not seen since last summer. Her name was Tammi. (Not to be confused with my best friend Tammy, she's still alive and sassy as ever!!) I also noticed her family spelled her name with an "e", she hated being "Tammie", she like "Tammi", because it made her unique. To me, that just shows me how much people misunderstood her.

Tammi came into my life when things were at its most chaotic. Kevin was in the rehab, having just been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She was in the rehab because she was bi-polar and generally unstable. The first thing I remember about her is she was so small and helpless looking. I used to tease her that she was the only one to stare at my boobs, because that is as high as she could see.

Like a cute little puppy, Tammi grew on you quickly. I knew there was something "more" going on between Kevin and Tammi, but at that point, I just didn't care anymore. I was living with Tim, I was "happy".

One day I went home to get more clothes (I still maintained my own home) and there they were. Kevin had brought her home with him. She had no where to go, her husband was brought up on drug charges, her kids had been taken from her, and her house had been foreclosed on.

What could I do? I accepted her as a part of the family. Eventually her daughter came to live there. My relationship with Tim was not what I wanted, so I moved home. Suddenly, I was living with my husband and his girlfriend. I don't believe I ever actively thought of her as competition. I just knew her as a friend who needed a family and someone to help take care of her. Hell, I was taking care of Kevin, had a 3 year old son, why not add another kid and a bi-polar, mostly manic woman to the mix? Kevin soon told me he was "in love" with her. I can remember my exact thought "why her? She's a mess." But you can't help who you love.

You can't help who you love. That is what Tammi taught me. You can't change how you feel, even if the person you love hurts you to your core, you still love them. Like that cute helpless puppy, you will continue to go back to the one who hurts you. Over the years, I have learned however that you can control how much influence that person has over you.

As for Tammi, she married a boy named Andy who was 14 years her junior. She literally left our house and moved into his. From what I understand, that didn't last very long. I believe it was her 4th marriage. Tammi lived a sad, chaotic life. When she was manic, she had a blast, but when she came back down, she hit rock bottom. I guess this time she just didn't have the strength to pull herself back up from that black pit of despair.

I have a Bible she once gave me; along with a bookmark that reads "when life has you down, look up". I have no doubt that Tammi no longer has to look up for help. She is finally free of a chronic, life changing disease that has a horrible stigma attached to it. It is a shame it had to end this way.

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