Thursday, February 5, 2009

Waking Up

I'm spending a little time this morning sipping coffee with the memory of my friend Pam Roberts. She did, after all, teach me the art of drinking a strong brew with a fierce companion...a ritual I've treasured with each friendship that has grown under the spell of a dark roasted bean. Her eyes were as clear and blue as mine are dark and muddy. Her growing up was as small town and church focused as mine was metropolitan and agnostic. Her career choice was motherhood. Mine was television. Her politics were conservative. Mine were not. She married a small town boy and settled into a suburban groove in West Texas a few years before I could even fathom the experience of "settled" in any area of my life. She let me borrow laundry soap when I was out and it was still two days 'til payday. She fed me scrambled eggs for dinner, tossing them with potatoes and grated cheese before any of us had ever heard of a breakfast taco or a miga. She served cake at my wedding, taught me how to hang men's shirts on hangers, gave me sound parenting advice when my toddlers were outsmarting me, and listened to the very beating of my heart in every story I told. She had great laugh, an open door policy, a well-worn recipe file, sweet smelling flowers at her front door...and a demon that dragged her around by the hair. Pam struggled her entire adult life with clinical depression. I am sorry to say I never quite got it. I never really understood the darkness of her ditch or the strength of the psychosis that wrestled her to the ground over and over again. I missed so many opportunities to hear her stories - the ones that were difficult to tell - because I was so very busy telling mine in an effort to keep the conversation bright and happy. Eventually...because she moved a couple of times and because I withdrew from her tragedy one or two degrees...Pam and I disconnected. But, we were always sure we would have time for coffee and long visits once the kids were grown and the houses were quiet. Pam died one year ago today. She was too young - 55. She contracted a viral infection that made her feel weird, so she went to bed early on a Sunday. On Monday, her husband couldn't wake her and she was rushed to the hospital. On Tuesday, February 5, 2008 - she died. And I ache for the promised long talk over coffee. The one during which I would tell her: I hear you. I love you. Your struggle makes you beautiful and strong. You can always come to me with these difficult stories. Her obituary last February included this line: Pam loved working in her flower garden and spending time with family and friends. Today, the coffee is on. I am planning a spring garden. And I am learning from Pam again. Life is short. Drink up!
Pam Roberts, 1952 - 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reading your post I can still hear Pam's laugh. It was unrestrained... clear and high like a small bell. Thanks for provoking that recollection.

- DC

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