Dancin’ and singin’ in the rain

Losing an employee or colleague is never easy. Whether because of resignation, relocation, termination, or death, the loss is painful and takes time to heal. When multiple losses occur within close temporal proximity to each other, it is hard to process all the feelings: the joy that a friend has found new success; the excitement that comes from watching someone embark on a new adventure; the disappointment that an employee did not meet expectations; the sadness that tears your heart in two as you realize that a child has lost a mother, and a husband has lost a wife.

I have been writing this post for a couple of days now and questioning my tenses (present, past, or both?). Hoping that the past tense would not apply, but knowing that inevitably it would. Debating whether to keep the memories private or expose them to the world. My memories are not those of a loved one or close friend. The depth of my loss is shallower than others will feel, but that does not mean the loss is shallow. My distance from the situation (physically and emotionally) means that I am one who can try to offer words of comfort, but from India, that is all I can offer. Words, words, words. And, words fail me now. Every word sounds so trite, so inadequate.

I first met Tammey Dunn during my initial employee interview at The Integrity Group. At the time, she was the Director of Documentation Services. I interviewed on a Friday, and Tammey was in jeans, which I took as sign that the atmosphere was casual. We chatted for a while—standard interview stuff really. The one phrase that I remember from the interview is “We’ve never missed a deadline.” That impressed the hell out of me. Never? Nope. Never. I thought, “Perfect! I love deadlines!” (Yeah, I was young and naive.)

After I came to Integrity, I never directly reported to Tammey. Our spheres of influence intersected, but they were not closely aligned. The first thing I learned about Tammey was that she was an expert communicator, especially in email. With a one-line email to a client she could turn “we might cancel the project” into “we will sign the addendum.” She was just that good. I have always thought Tammey was Integrity’s most effective email communicator (don’t tell Deborah I said that). But, now, I am searching my memory to remember if I ever told Tammey that.

In my first year as a manager, I had to terminate an employee. When things got to the point where action needed to be taken, it was Tammey I turned to for advice. She helped me process through what had been done and what had to be done. Her keen ability to objectively assess a business problem and reach a resolution is a quality that I wish I possessed more of. Her business acumen reflected a tough, take-no-prisoners attitude. I sought out that toughness when deciding on next steps with my employee. I did not want to be talked out of the tough choice I knew I had to make. I wanted reassurance that the decision was the right one for the business. Tammey assured me it was.

That toughness is why I was surprised to learn that she lost her battle with cancer. I and so many other people assumed that she would apply that same toughness to her cancer battle and win. But, there are some times when no matter how well planned the battle is, no matter how hard-fought, the outcome is not as hoped or expected. One lost battle does not mean that other battles will not be fought and won; just that this one was not.

It was raining today in Mumbai. Monsoon is supposed to be over by now. At first, I thought, “God is crying for Tammey.” But, then I remembered the quote that always comes to mind when I see it rain here:

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain.

 

12 thoughts on “Dancin’ and singin’ in the rain

  1. Loved today’s blog, Jean! I’ll always remember Tammey as a strong, tough-as-nails lady with a heart of gold! Today is a sad day, indeed. The angels have a great one with them though, and I like to think she’s now our own guardian angel.

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  2. I really needed to read this today. Well written. Here’s a hug from (almost) the other side of the world. *hug AND – I have to say this… every single time I read your blog, I am reminded of a conversation where you told me you were an excellent editor, but that you didn’t consider yourself an equally talented writer. You said that it impressed you how writers create something from scratch, not just improve on what was already written. Please let this post mark the moment you realize you are an amazing writer. Every blog post your have written is worthy of being read, sometimes I read them over and over. I promise this will be one of the posts I will revisit. xoxo-Amy

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    • Hey, girl. Lots of virtual hugs from the other side of the world. And, the editor stands corrected. 😀 I guess I can add writer to my LinkedIn profile now.

      Loss is loss, even if it is because someone moved to the other side of the world or got a really great new job. Right now, there is a lot of loss on your plate, and then, bam! Real, tough, sad loss. Keep your chin up.

      I was not sure if I should post this blog or not. I wrote it thinking that I might just keep it in draft mode, but you have made me very glad that I clicked Publish.

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  3. So perfectly said Jean. As Tammey so often said, everyone’s time and purpose at each place and situation is different and we’re only here as long as God says it’s working for us. She was a blessing to many and will always be remembered.

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  4. I have been thinking of my experiences with Tammey too, Jean. You articulated very well the strong, intelligent, friendly woman I know- knew. I’m struggling with the tenses too. It still seems so surreal. We were just talking about her coming to the Christmas party last week, knowing she would pull through this. She has left her mark here, teaching so many through patience and example. She will be missed and remembered.

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  5. Jean, you SO nailed the takeaway for today and any day when loss strikes us close. I, too, didn’t work with her directly and only spoke to her a handful of times when both she and I were in the office on the same day. When I think of Tammey, I think of her ebullient smile that lit up not only her face but the room. When she and I talked, nothing else mattered at that time. It was just one-on-one, and that’s a great trait for anyone to possess. Thanks for writing such a great piece today.

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    • Hi Scott. That is a great image of Tammey. It is a high compliment that you liked my post. And to think I was not going to publish it. Funny how God works sometimes. Thanks.

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  6. I just got a Facebook message from Lori Schaub about creating a tribute for Tammey. I had no idea this had happened. I’m devastated. I’m sorry for you all.

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