The services started yesterday with close family, friends and EMS family. They steadily came in to pay their respects to Tammy Tisa, a friend, mother, sister, daughter and wife. With heavy hearts, we watched as John greeted each and every person stepped up...and they came in droves! For several hours, he hugged and shook hands with everyone...Mike and other family sat nearby as they watched the immense amount of people who had their lives touched in some way by Tammy; whether she taught them, worked with them or mentored them--she was well loved! The viewing ended late in the evening, knowing we'd be back today to do the hardest part...
A few hours were spent at the funeral home, and then onto the church we went. Four members from each of the two EMS squads held the honor of being her pallbearers, placing her casket in "her rig". The service at the church became 'standing room only', and you could feel the sadness of her passing but the love of the lives she affected in the attendees. John read a very touching letter from the heart he wrote to everyone but to his wonderful wife as well...and John--I'm glad you didn't miss out on the dance with the love of your life, either.
We went onto the direction of the cemetery, but not without making two stops. At the front of the squad building, as we lit up every single rig light and siren to pay honor to Tammy, there laid a small bundle of gear neatly folded at the end of the drive...it was Tammy's turnout gear facing the road with her nametag visible and her EMS helmet atop of it. We also did sirens and lights at their home that was less than a few blocks from the squad.
We turned into the cemetery to see the awesome sight of Bridgeton and Cedarville's ladder trucks perched high, with the large American flag suspended above the road. From there, we went on to the gravesite with "her rig" leading the way and the pallbearers holding onto it. The rest of the Lawrence Township EMS members walked behind, in a four by four formation. Her casket was taken graveside with family and EMS following.
A brief service ensued with one of the most awe inspiring but saddest sounds one would ever hear--last call. The sound of hundreds of pagers being toned out and hearing "Squad 38, Station 17, Squad 98...Tammy Tisa, this is your last call" still brings tears to my eyes. We moved on, placing teal blue carnations on her casket with some putting their gloves on top of the casket as well. As the line began to move, a cooling breeze came down from the top of the hill...Tammy was taking care of her own from the heavens.
Please, continue to keep John, Mike and the rest of her family in your prayers as the days go on. They will need them as well as your friendship.
As I look back on the day, I still hear what some said she was well known for saying; a "Tammyism" if you will..."People will still call 911 and the ambulances still have to roll". We won't pretend that's it's going to get easier for anyone but let's not forget to celebrate her life.
And Tammy, if you can hear us up in heaven--don't worry, we got this...