42 is too young to die

I can’t remember with any certainty who the first friend of mine was to have sex, who the first one was to get married or who had a baby first.

I will never forget my first friend to die, though

IMG_0449Tamar was a gorgeous 42 year old with the most incredible curly hair, a wicked sense of humor, a great love of fancy shoes and a passion for raising her kids well. We became friends through our then-boyfriends who were part of the same social circle but our friendship was cemented once her older daughter Charly and my younger one Sophie met at preschool. They became best friends and as families we began to spend a lot more time together.

We shared a love of gourmet food, great wine, espresso, great books and travel and frequently combined all of those things on trips we took together. There were always lots of laughs and great memories were continuously being made. Since we were in the prime of our lives, we of course assumed we would continue to make them for decades to come.

A little over 18 months ago, Tamar had been having back pain that wouldn’t go away. Her doctor suggested she get a massage to ease the pain. During the massage the manipulations caused a tumor that no one even knew she had in her spine to rupture. Within half an hour she could no longer move her hands and shortly after that she became paralyzed from the neck down.

The 9 months that followed were a living nightmare for Tamar, her incredible husband Monte, and their two kids. She had surgery to remove the remnants of the tumor and spent the majority of her time in several hospitals and rehab facilities. Her family and friends did whatever they could to support her and Monte both at home and at the hospital.

Home cooked meals were delivered daily, lifts were arranged, kids were taken care of, shopping was done.

The community at large rallied and even people Tamar didn’t know were dropping off food, sending notes and cards and offering their support.

Throughout those 9 months I rarely saw Tamar cry. She didn’t feel sorry for herself, although she, like the rest of us, were in complete shock about what had happened. During her illness, as in the rest of her life, she told it like it was and she never sugar coated anything. Having said that, she was relentlessly optimistic. It was a matter of WHEN she would walk again, not if.

What made her emotional was talking about how many people had come to the aid of her and her family in their time of need. She worried about how she could repay everyone for their kindness.

She and Monte planned a giant party to be held the following summer to thank everyone who had cooked a meal, written a card, helped the kids with lifts or homework. And of course, according to Tamar, she’d be walking at that party.

Sadly, Tamar’s battle came to a sudden end in early July of 2013. The tumor not only affected her ability to unnamedmove but it also affected her ability to breathe properly. Her body had weakened after a bout with pneumonia and on a weekend home from rehab, she passed away lying next to her husband. It was the third time in 9 months that she had slept in her own bed.

One year later and it is still impossible to believe that this happened and that Tamar is actually gone. I’ll come across a picture of the two of us from one of our shared birthday celebrations, or one of her and Charly from 10 years ago and be reminded, with a jolt, that she died. It’s extremely difficult to try to wrap my head around the fact that so many milestones will occur in Monte and the kids’ lives without her presence.

To honor the memory of this amazing friend, daughter, sister and mother, Monte and a group of Tamar’s closest friends got together to plan a one of its kind event in Montreal.

Called “Electric City”, this fun filled family event will be held on Saturday September 6th with the funds raised benefitting En Famille, a Hope & Cope program at the Jewish General Hospital that offers professional support and resources to young families living with cancer. En Famille is so amazing because it provides everything that Tamar’s friends, family and community were able to do for her for families without that built-in network.

You'reinvited_ElectricCity (6) (1)Electric City will be held at 5650 Royalmount featuring food from local restaurants such as MBrgr40 WesstLesters and Bofinger to name just a few. Activities for kids (and adults!) of all ages include a Velcro wall, riding bull, gladiator joust, paintball target practice, live DJ and dancing in a glow in the dark theme.

I know that Tamar would want nothing more than for everyone who knew and loved her to celebrate her incredible life that was far too short. I hope you’ll join us at Electric City and benefit En Famille at the same time.


Click here for tickets and more information.

-Julie Wiener


  • lauren steinberg
    Posted at 09:56h, 25 August Reply

    beautifully written. best of luck at the event.

  • Angela Ford-Rosenthal
    Posted at 14:44h, 25 August Reply

    Very moving piece Julie.

  • Michael
    Posted at 10:10h, 27 August Reply

    Julie, you got to the essence of Tamar.
    I hope the event is a wonderful memorial and financial success!

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