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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Schilaty

Remembering Tami

This is a post that I mostly wrote for myself. I just had to say something about my buddy.

My friend Tami Boyens passed away yesterday. I woke up this morning to news of her passing. Grief is a funny thing. At first I felt just fine and then I just started sobbing. Usually when I cry I cry because I’m joyful or something touches me, but today I’ve been crying because I’m devastated. I’ve cried more tears today than in the whole last year combined.

Tami and I were in the same PhD program. She was a year ahead of me and one of the first people I met in Tucson. She was always so kind and good to me. We’d frequently complain about school together. Every time we ran into each other on campus she’d give me a big hug and we’d stop and chat. She was one of those people who I knew cared about me. I went to her dissertation proposal defense and brought a dozen donuts. I remember waiting with her in the hallway after the defense and chowing down on donuts while we waited to hear if she had passed or not. And then when she passed we cheered and hugged.

She was a great writer and was so witty. She also swore like a sailor. After repeatedly saying the F-word while talking to me she’d frequently apologize. I always told her not to worry and to just be herself. But she knew I didn’t care for swearing and she cleaned up her language around me anyway. We would often meet up to chat at coffee shops, but since I don’t drink coffee I recommended meeting up at Jamba Juice and that kind of became our thing. Tami and I are both ENFPs and she would always say that I was just the Mormon male version of her. 

This last year was particularly rough for Tami. It felt like she was flickering out. She would message me and tell me that she was having a tough day so I’d make her go out and do something with me. One night I made her come to a Thanksgiving dinner with me at the LDS Institute. She’d never been there before and didn’t know anyone else there but me. After dinner they had an open mic sort of thing where anyone could get up and say what they were thankful for. I wrote the following in my journal: “At first no one stood up and I jokingly told Tami to say something. She said, 'Okay,' and then walked up to the microphone. She said that her friend Ben had invited her, that she’d never been to the Institute before, and that she was thankful for Institute because everyone had been so friendly and kind and shared food with her. It was actually really touching and then everyone clapped for her. It was awesome.” Tami was super ballsy.

One of the last times I hung out with Tami was in early December. She hadn’t been able to leave her apartment all day and asked if I could bring her a burrito. I got her a California burrito at Nico’s and instead of eating it right away she set it down because she had so many stories to tell me first. Tami definitely knew how to talk. I took over a bunch of papers I had to grade and we laughed and talked for hours while I graded. When I left she gave me $10 for the burrito. It only cost $6 so I tried to give her change, but she said, “Keep the change, I’m sure you’ll be bringing me food in the future.” It hurts that I won’t get that opportunity to share a meal with Tami again. I think I will take those $4 and get a Jamba Juice.

Today I lit a candle in Tami’s honor. The only candle I had was a Santa candle and I think Tami would have laughed that I lit a Santa candle to remember her. I know Tami didn’t believe in an afterlife, but I do. And I’d like to think that if there is an afterlife, that my grandma Dorothy Schilaty found Tami today and introduced herself. I just like the idea of Tami being with someone I know right now. Tami always told me that I was "Schilawesome" and I know that she would think my grandma was, too. I will miss Tami fiercely. I will remember her gumption, her humor, her love, and most of all I will remember how good she was to me. She is one of a kind.

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