Tessa Louise Wiseman, age 28, passed away peacefully on August 13th, 2023.
Tessa should be remembered for her life, which was nothing short of incredible. In her final days, to her sister and best friend Taylor, she said that her 28 years felt like two thousand. So, as her family, we celebrate her life’s abundance.
Tessa would not want to be remembered for her many accolades: her straight A’s, as the homecoming queen, for her double-major at Johns Hopkins (where she followed her sister Taylor), her Phi Beta Kappa induction, or by her oral argument win as a 1L law student at UVA (though we clearly can’t help but brag). Rather, she would want to be remembered by her friends and family, who she talked about exclusively, instead of herself.
Tessa was beautiful on the outside, but her inner beauty outshined all else. To spend a moment in her light, in her warmth, made you feel like the only person on earth. She graciously shone on everyone in her life, from her friends at the check-out counter, to her peers at work and in school, on her running buddies, new and timeless, and of course, and most of all, she radiated on complete strangers of all faiths, and no faiths, from all backgrounds and all races, from all ideologies and walks of life. Tessa cast all else aside and loved each person deeply and unconditionally. Tessa was an equal opportunity light, and we’re all still glowing from it.
Between her undergraduate years and time in law school, Tessa lived and worked in Washington, D.C., focused on immigration and refugee advocacy. At The American Immigration Lawyers Association, Tessa fought for human rights, for all people to be treated with decency, and for something she believed in deeply, which was to love thy neighbor (especially when they were seeking asylum). Each year, she hosted an annual reading of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘March on Washington’ speech. She would proudly assemble her friends in her apartment, where it’s rumored some of the speech was written by the man himself. “I have a dream today!”
Tessa was a runner. On a normal day she would log six or seven miles, picking up more after work if she didn’t have time in the morning. She ran marathons, including the Marine Corps Marathon (in the rain!), but on bad days, even during her first cancer battle, she ran through many of her treatments, including to and from radiation therapy. Running was therapeutic for her, and she shared that passion with so many in her life. (Get her take on this in her Glamour Magazine article from 2017.)
Tessa wanted to live, there’s no doubt. And she did. At 14 she was diagnosed with the underlying condition that ultimately led us here. At 21 she was diagnosed with cancer for the first time, and after beating it against all odds, she lived a healthy and adventurous 5+ years, working, traveling, loving, and hosting. (Did we mention she was the hostess with the mostest?)
When Tessa was re-diagnosed with cancer, it was easy to question, why? Why did someone who shone like Tessa have to suffer immensely in this life? To have it cut short? We believe that through her suffering, there was also healing for others. And through the brevity, the drop of her life, in the ocean of time, there was a powerful ripple-effect created. The life of Tessa has now become a part of all of ours, and we’ll continue to share her light.
Tessa inspired so many through her journey. She reminded us that focusing on the future, celebrating life with every breath and every mile, and aspiring to love and help others - that is the only way to live, no matter what difficulties may arise along the way and what insurmountable obstacles we may face.
She walked her final chapter with a smile, graciously showering her medical staff, Uber drivers, Olive Garden waiters (when you’re there, you’re family!), and everyone in between, with her love. She was quick to drop lyrics on any song she’d ever heard, never missing a beat, recently to Lose Yourself and at a recent Taylor Swift concert with one of her best friends, Ali. We believe she did all of that for us, and not just her family, but for all of us who watched her soldier on. If she could walk with her head held high, through everything that she did, then so can we.
Tessa was a great sister, daughter, friend, colleague, American, Christian, and a much better writer than this author (we did our best!)
We would be remiss not to thank, at Tessa’s request, everyone who supported her through thick and thin. And since that list would be far too long to appear here, that, along with the details of her services, will be shared at TESSAWISEMAN.COM
Tessa’s legacy will be continued by her parents, Todd and Robin Wiseman, her sister Taylor and her husband Matt and their soon-to-be born son Brody, her brother Trent and his wife Val (who was also going to be her living liver donor), and her brother Todd (Jr.). As well as by her boundless group of friends and extended family.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of the organizations Tessa supported.
Tessa Wiseman fund c/o Mark Yarchoan
The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center Development Office
750 East Pratt Street, 17th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202
The American Association of Immigration Lawyers
The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation
Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Cycle for Survival
Details at www.TessaWiseman.com
SERVICES will be held in St. Pete Beach, Florida, on September 9th, with details at TESSAWISEMAN.COM