Tammy Labude: I Think I’ll BE


Facebook isn’t always politics and kitty cats. And it wasn’t for me today. It was the mournful media that informed me of a personal loss so heartfelt it is difficult to describe.

How do you describe having known an honest-t0-goodness living, breathing, celestial yet terrestrial…angel…and now she is gone? How do you describe someone who was never supposed to be here on this earth, yet was…how do you describe someone who dropped into your life at the exact moment of necessity, who brightened your days of sorrow and darkness, and touched not just you, but virtually everyone fortunate enough to be found in her presence?

With only two words: Tammy Labude

I met Tammy in 2002 when she was directing a production of Heidi in Garland, Texas. My eight-year-old daughter Abigail was up for the part. She got called back, did a good job and to our utter joy was cast as the lead. Seeing my daughter ecstatic with the joy of a dream come true was the first gift Tammy gave to me.

But soon this joy began to flow to me. I was living in a city away from home, and was profoundly homesick. While waiting for something or someone before rehearsals began, I was blessed to visit with Tammy for more than an hour, just the two of us. An instant friendship was born. We talked, we shared, we laughed, and I went home lighter than I had been for more than a year.

And her blessings to me and my family just multiplied. She always seemed to be there and available the exact moments and days I needed her. Always. Eventually, I moved back home, and so did she. We stayed in touch with occasional phone calls and messages. Every time we talked it was like we had just spoken yesterday.

And now I realize that my daughter and I were but two tiny woven threads on the loving, giving, living tapestry that made up Tammy’s life. Because the gifts she gave to us she gave to everyone who was lucky enough to cross her path. And I believe wholeheartedly that her paths, her every steps were God directed.

How else but Angel might she be called? She was born with frailties that would have taken most away. She bore human challenges most of us have never seen. She was never interested in the grand earthly things. People were her business. Small ones. Tall ones. Old ones. Young ones. All ones. She gave and she gave and she forgave and I will never know why I was so blessed as to have been among those who had the privilege to know her.

I noticed some time back someone on Facebook quoted to her “To be, or not to be?” and Tammy answered, “I think I’ll BE.” And boy, did she.

That I could BE a fraction of her goodness…

God speed, Tammy, and God willing, until we meet again.



Elevators: Portals or Transporters?

inside elevator

I have always harbored an intense dislike and distrust of elevators. Prince dying alone in one this week isn’t helping my predisposition.

I have oft felt alone in my leery unease on the subject of elevators. I have spent a lifetime avoiding elevators at every possible turn. I have quit jobs to avoid them, I have changed doctors to avoid them, and when forced to enter one, I go to great lengths to make sure I am never in one entirely alone. I stalk friendly faces and law enforcement as I smile and politely inquire if they are going to such and such floor?

Elevators…I hate their looks. I hate their doors. I hate their shiny, brassy rectangular shape. I hate the slit in their doors that slides open and snaps shut at their will, forcing you to move fast in or out. (Who decided this soulless machine gets to determine how fast I move? Who gave it permission to make me hop in or jump out?)

I especially distrust the seemingly benign opening of their doors, that deceitful invitation to step in and hand over your entire control. I distrust the interior of this up-and-down, unpredictable beast that swallows you whole, body and soul, until when and if it decides to spit you back out where you hope to go.

Finally, I hate the awkward interior etiquette of the passengers (prisoners?). I hate the mindless chatter (guilty) or the cold silence (tomb-esque) that’s different with every ride. I hate getting squished by the same types of pushy-doos who park their giant vehicles four inches from your front seat. I hate that I am generally half as tall as any of the inhabitants.

But you know what makes me the most uneasy about elevators? It is their ability to transport people and cargo to seemingly other worlds. They aren’t transporters. They are portals. They take you to worlds you don’t even know exist until you get there. It makes me uneasy to look up at a 10, 20, 50 story building and know that there is a different world, a different reality, a different dimension, a different life, on each floor, in each room, in every nook and cranny within these giant steel encasements. There are thousands of people, of critters, of insects, all living their existences in their elevated worlds.

I recently served eight days on a jury for a case on the 17th floor. I somehow faced my fears and got up and down, several times a day. (The source and nature of this bravery will be a subject for another day. Suffice it to say I believe I was intended to be there.) My fears and anxieties were lit on fifty cylinders. But what I could not fathom was what a completely and utterly different reality transpired within our section of our floor of our building, how it so differed from those folks who scurried on the ground, on the streets, in the cars as they entered and exited the city.

Like many, I am missing Prince with an ache that leaves me hurting. But I am especially sad that he died alone in what I view as a limbo of sorts, an elevator, a non-place. But what do I know? It is my prayer and my belief that those shinny, brassy doors flew open for him to enter the next world. His Final Elevator, his Portal, took him from here to There. God speed, my friend.