My Forever Friend

Shared by cammie porter on April 14, 2013

About 18 years ago I met a force of nature, let's call her Pam. We met in all places the Bennigans ladies room. She was working there at the time, the restaurant, not the ladies room.  As anyone who had ever met her will tell you, you didn't just meet her, you experienced a whirlwind and by the end you weren't even sure what happened. Within 5 minutes I had given her my hair tie because hers had flung across the bathroom, and we were talking about getting our kids together. Before I knew it we were going to the zoo and exchanging our kids back and forth. She always made sure Darci and Matt had fun. Fun and laughter were more important than anything else. I don't remember when she became one of my best friends, I only remember feeling that I couldn't remember a time she wasn't. I can still hear her laughing so hard she would snort and it would make us laugh even harder. At times, no one around us would even understand what was so funny, and that made it funnier, I wish that for everyone.

At the time I met her I was waiting on a remodeling project for the condo I was moving into, only to find out it was in her development, almost fate. My friend was only a walk away, now not even weather would keep us apart. My family became her family. Pam talked so fast it was like she spoke another language. I can still see my dads face as even after a decade he still struggled to understand her, but he would just shake his head and smile- what else could he do?

When I became pregnant with Nic she was the first to know, and I don't remember who was more excited, sorry Nic :) I was about 5 months pregnant when she found out she was pregnant with Dylan. We shared cravings, and shopping trips and talked about how when we were older our families were set. Best friends for everyone. I remember she went on vacation and within 48 hours I received a FedEx package. In it was the biggest apple I had ever seen. It was dipped in layers of chocolate and caramel. Her theory was, she had been craving one so I had to have it too and since she was on the West coast she shipped it. It made perfect Pam sense. It's so strange, even thinking now; I don't ever remember an argument, not even a disagreement. Just laughter. When Nic was born it was love at first sight for her, even though she was convinced he was going to be a girl, again sorry Nic. As I prepare for Nic’s birthday tomorrow, I am reminded she was there from the beginning. Celebrating our kids milestones- Birthdays, first day of school, first day of Spring, first this and first that.

Months later I got the honor of seeing how truly strong my friend was, Dylan arrived early into the world. Health concerns surrounded Dylan, but as Pam had described it later, she had been preparing for a trip to Franceand ended up in Holland. At first, it's not what you expected or prepared for but you can't let it stop you from embracing all it has to offer. We learned the trick of turning tears into laughter. Beauty is everywhere. I watched my friend go through a range of challenges and rise to them every time. I was in awe.

 After my car accident there were times I couldn't find my way. She always made me feel "normal" and that it was everyone else who was losing their minds.  When you can’t find your way, there is a certain comfort in knowing you have someone who will help you tear down the walls and make a new path.

I remember how happy she was when her mom came to NJ to live, California was always in her heart, and now a piece of her heart was on the East Coast. Celebrations were never small in the world of Pam. She didn't look for Special Moments, she created them.  The kids often had "appletizer" parties and there was always a crazy craft project. I still have my Worlds Best Mom apron and towels complete with hand prints. 

 I remember her calling me after her sister Kim got married. She described the whole wedding it so much detail, I thought I was there. Pam kept saying how beautiful and happy Kim was, and that fairytales were written because of moments like that. In the same breathe she talked about chipping her tooth on candy and scraping her leg with her own heel, only Pam. 

My conversations with my friend went from minutes to hours without blinking and not even clear on how we got from topic to topic. Vacations were there own event.  Our families went on the most amazing cruise that Pam started planning over a year in advance, complete with her own mixed CD. Our trip was amazing and even my friend Tracy came along for the ride. I think our table was the loudest at dinner as she encouraged the boys to order 3-4 dinners. You always knew what part of the ship we were on. Pam and I had an evening ritual on the cruise of champagne bar, sauna and coffee. Thinking back, I think we did it backwards, but that was our friendship, act first, think later…repeat process. Laugher and smiles were her souvenirs, well that and jewelry and Coach bags. I will never forget the trip Pam and I took to Vegas, including the pole dancing class. For a moment she got stuck after climbing the pole. Who does that? She looked down and said" I only have strength, not grace, help me down."

There are so many times I just remember just sitting, drinking coffee with her and just bursting out laughing. Nothing had been said, just a look between two friends. It tears me up inside to have lost that. A piece of my puzzle is gone, never to be replaced. I will remain incomplete. 

We shared everything, children, cars, coffee, clothes, even our family doctor- Poor Renaldo. She wrapped people in her kindness and generosity. If you needed something you had it, even if you only met her the same day. With Pam you just became a part of something without even realizing why. Her challenges became my challenges, her struggles, my struggles. She was a force to be reckoned with. If she felt someone was wronged, or mistreated you just stood back and watched as she worked to right the wrong. You either got out of her way or you got on board.

Pam didn't see people the way that most do. She believed that no matter what walk of life, good people existed and have amazing stories to tell and she would listen. I could always be honest with Pam, even when I didn't want to be honest with my self. We saw each other at our weakest points and it’s in those moments that define a friendship the most. I miss our dynamic, for years it was my constant.

The past few years were difficult for Pam. She seemed to always be looking for something she couldn't find. There was no inner peace.  I had to make decisions that I will always second guess, because at the end of the day I am without my friend. I hadn't heard her voice in person in over a year, and the thought I will never hear it again is a little more than I can bear right now. It echoes in my head, and a piece of my heart is empty. Everywhere I look around me is a memory. Even my bathroom holds a story of Pam. One day she dropped a bottle of lotion into the toilet as it was flushing she didn't want to tell me but when water started pouring all over the place and out into my bedroom, she had no choice. As I sit and write this, I can still hear her laughing as she was saying, " I hoped you wouldn't notice."

Moments become increasingly important. I know I am surrounded by people that love me including my two wonderful sons. This week they have seen me as I grieve for my friend and stood by my side mostly without words, just a strong hand on my shoulder. I don't know what I have done right, but as I look at them I know I am proud. It’s in that moment that I realize that they are becoming the men that Pam and I talked about and I realize that she will never get to see it. It saddens me, because she was right. They are handsome, intelligent, funny, kind and generous; I think they got the last two from her. At times, she was as much their mother as I was.  Pam was always one of their biggest cheerleaders, whether it was school, swimming, concerts, or teaching them to drive, yes she even put Nic behind the wheel before the age of 5. “He has to learn sometime.”

She would do anything for those she loved, and I was fortunate to be in that category.

 I know emotions are not typically "my thing" as my boys would say and I believe it's because I am blessed. I am surrounded by people who love me and support me, but sometimes you can feel alone in a crowded room. Eventually I know that I will think back on my memories with more laughter than tears, because that is who Pam was. Everyone who knew her has a "funny" Pam story. She was scattered, clumsy and at times, uncoordinated. However, she was also genuine, kind, and generous without measure. I could write forever about her, but it won't change the fact she is no longer with us. I was blessed to have her, and I pray that she always knew that. We all need that someone who sits in silence with us when we are at our worse, who doesn't condemn or advise, but merely holds your hand and says "we've got this."

Pam will always be with me, but not the way I wish. I have to rely on video, pictures and memories and sometimes it is not enough. She was beautiful inside and out, and I miss her. I pray she is now at peace.



Shared by Pam's Sister on April 11, 2013

I think Pam is looking to heaven in this picture.

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