Some time in the late 1990s , my friend, Howie, snuck my friend Sharon and I into a bar at a bowling alley. Sharon and I were 19 years old, but we didn't drink. Nobody really noticed two more people in the bar as it was already quite crowded. In the bar, was karaoke hosted by Jeff, who, then, could've been Steven Segal's brother. Sharon knew somebody in the bar, Barry, and he offered the three of us a seat at his table. Also seated around the table (it was tables pushed together), was Doug (he didn't need to sneak in), Pam,Mona, Susan, Diann, Billy, Jimmy, and tons of other people, who, while we didn't realize it at the time, would all become friends. Needless to say, it was a great night. Our first night doing karaoke and Sharon and I actually had a blast! It became an obsession for some of us.
The next weekend came along, and Pam and I got to talking,exchanged numbers, and decided to hang out before she went to Israel. We went to karaoke a whole bunch of times, and the diner afterwards. It was a karaoke tradition not to be in bed before 4am in those days, sometimes later.
Pam went to Israel for awhile. When she came back, she showed me her pictures, we talked almost every single day, and she became one of my best friends.
While our karaoke circle broke up for a bit, and other friends moved away, Pam and I still did almost everything together.
Pam and I were very silly together. We used to stick signs on our heads that said "I'm single. Are you?" or "Kiss me. I'm single" (and before you ask no it didn't work). We liked some of the same music. I had to pull over to the side of the road once because Pam made me laugh so hard I couldn't see to drive. She thought the song was "Sexual Hearing" and not "Sexual Healing." We had a ton of inside jokes...such as brownies with or without nuts. There is possibly only one other person out there who will get it, if he remembers. At karaoke, we did duets...our first duet was "From A Distance" by Bette Middler. It came out fairly decent. Our best duet was probably me singing backup to Pam for "Come a Little Bit Closer" by Jay Black and the Americans. Our funniest duet was "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer. We sounded like two wounded moose, but we had a lot of fun!
Pam and I found out that we both enjoyed paranormal shows and believed in psychics and an afterlife. We both watched Ghost Adventures and Dead Files, and loved Sylvia Brown and John Edwards. We went to psychic fairs, and, at one I introduced her to my friend Adam.
While Pam and I love the USA, we also love the UK. We both have friends from England who we speak/spoke to on a regular basis. Well, Pam had met Brian on a kibbutz in Israel, and went to visit him one year. I am a night owl, and Pam knew this. I was on AOL IM, and she and Brian were online making me laugh my butt off. In fact, I remember waking my mother up because I laughed so hard! She and Brian became the best of friends, and through Pam I was able to write to Brian a few times (hopefully he will keep in touch). We used to tease him about his love of beer (don't ask. lol). She also always spoke of Brian's friends, who became her friends (and now my friends), Roger and Sue.
Most of you know, Pam loved to travel. I once told her she should've been a travel agent! She went to England, France, Israel, Denmark, Spain--just to name a few. She would've been going to Amsterdam come May.
The Cheesecake Factory and Borrellis--Pam's two favorite restaurants! Also, the places where she held most of her birthdays! I wish there were still more birthdays to celebrate!
Pam at this point was very into a show called Impractical Jokers, which I admit I've only watched a handful of times, but I did "meet" Jay Miller online, through Pam, and he is quite funny! Anyway, the Impractical Jokers have a rather large family (they aren't friends, but a family--kind of like me and my extended bear family). She traveled all over New York for these guys! She made friends from there as well, and often sent the guys birthday gifts or chipped in for a gifts for the guys. She has a ton of pictures with them--mostly on her Facebook page. When we would go out to Starbucks and talk, very often she would say "Mur said" or "Sal said " etc.
Then, due to very horrific circumstances which I will not divulge on here , our original karaoke "gang" started talking again. It was like we never left each other. I missed these people so much, even though we don't hang out as often as we'd like to. Pam did too. Pam got to see a few of them in the last year or so.
The same year these horrific circumstances occurred, and other set of horrific events began to unfold. Pam was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was the start ofit. She wound up going for a double mastectomy. Then she took the BRCA test....and was negative for 1 and 2, but because ovarian cancer runs in her family, and because the doctor told her it would be best, she had a double ovectomy. Next came breast reconstruction, which they really did a really good job.
The doctor she was seeing handed her a bunch of pills telling her they were chemo pills. They turned out to be hormone pills so she didn't produce estrogen. Why would the doctor do this? Pam wasn't making estrogen at this point. Some of us feel that if she had some radiation or chemo at this juncture she might've beat the cancer. This doctor also told Pam she only had 17 months to live, without doing one test on her. Ironically, the doctor mysteriously resigned. Pam and Karen (a very close and dear friend) decided to seek treatment at the Memorial Sloan Kettering branch at Mercy Medical Center.
This is where Pam decided only to tell me bits and pieces. Pam had somuch hope after seeing her oncologist at Mercy. I was convinced she was going to beat this thing! She went for a lumpectomy on her back, and all she had left was a spot on her liver, or so that is what she told me. She told me that she would be on chemo until her liver levels went down. Well, she told me that her levels went down but she wasn't off the chemo and she was getting really sick. Back in November, she told me she was having her chemo adjusted.
Then, came the phone call. She called me to tell me she wasn't going to be around much longer. She had had two seizures that day. I got to visit her twice and talk to her on the phone. I made her laugh. Her laugh was contagious!
The second time I went to visit her, I ran into Karen in the hall, and we went into see her together. That's when Karen told me what had really been going on. In November, Pam had to have her lungs drained of fluid. And Pam had cancer in her throat, and it probably moved to her brain (hence the seizures,etc). Also, that Pam had been stage 4 since she had the mastectomy.
Before people start asking me, NO, I am not angry at Pam for not telling me how bad it really was. She knows I have a panic attacks and that I was going through some other medical issues, even though they were not nearly as serious as what Pam was going through.
Pam was buried on the 18th of January. She was 41. The thing I will miss the most: her laugh! The most contagious laugh you have ever heard in your life! She also had an amazing sense of humor! I have not fully wrapped my mind around this yet, but I know she is in Heaven with her family, and watching over us. She is survived by her brother, Dean, who is by far one of the bravest people I've ever seen, and two beautiful doggies who we are trying to find a home for.
This poem was read at Pam's funeral...tis quite moving and it made us all cry.
The Dash by Linda Ellis