Monday, April 17, 2006

The Accidental Gardener

Most people would have called them weeds.

Pam. When various green things, including, astonishingly, corn, began to sprout from a patch under a tree in her yard, she dubbed the collection her "Accidental Garden" and began to nurture it.

At that point, her life was already somewhat circumscribed by her recently diagnosed lung cancer. But she was hardly ready to pack it in.

I hadn't read Pam's journal before she got sick. I picked up on an alert put out last summer by one of her many friends, urging journal readers to head on over to offer her support and encouragment as she battled a disease already far advanced.

I was sadly aware of the devastating nature of her diagnosis, since my stepmother had died of lung cancer only a few months earlier. A year before, I had had no idea what terms like "IIIB" and "IV" meant in terms of lung cancer staging, or what chemotherapy and radiation could do to a body. By the time I began reading Pam's journal, I knew only too well, and whenever she was silent for awhile I feared the worst. But Pam hung in there.

She was unflinchingly honest about her daily challenges. She relayed the trials and tribulations of her various therapies, surgeries, and refined diagnoses. She talked about the persistent and miserable side effects. She analyzed the daily struggles inherent in life as a divorced mother of two, with her college son living far away and her daughter moving in with her father and his new wife.

We could feel the warmth surfacing from the computer screen when she beamingly reported that her beloved son had taken a leave of absence from college to care for her, or when she took note of time spent with her beloved daughter.

Just ten days ago, I think, Pam posted some pictures of herself modeling the pj's some of her online friends had sent as a gift. She looked thin and gaunt -- but irrepressible. What a smile! I didn't happen to see that post until day before yesterday, and I mused to myself that perhaps she was on the mend. And then, yesterday -- no, that wasn't to be.

I've been keeping track of the magnolia blossoms as they have emerged over the past week. They begin so tightly wound in upon themselves, and then as they unfold they open to a beauty unimaginable only a few weeks ago. Pam saw that kind of potential in her world and the people who shared it with her, and we all saw it in her. May her new adventure be one of ever-unfolding beauty.

PS: I didn't need to write this at all. All we really need to do is go back to read one of Pam's earliest entries in Just One Girl's Head Noise.


Kathy said...

What a great entry. I "met" Pamela early on in the beginnings of AOL J-land. She was a terrific lady.

aka onestrangecat

Lisa :-] said...

I, too, thought she might be coming back a little to have some days of good time before the disease challenged her again. Like you said, that was not to be. I am just glad she was able to get back to her journal for a few weeks after her surgery. I know it was a great place of peace and generosity for her. We will miss her.

Dorn said...

Beautiful. I believe that we have all become a part of her accidental garden.

ckays1967 said...

This is beautiful...

emmapeelDallas said...

This is a great tribute to Pam.


Carol said...

Although I didn't know Pam in person or through her journal, your post here gave us a beautiful glimpse into who she was and how she impacted your life. What a lovely tribute.

Paula said...


Bedazzzled1 said...

Your words are incredible. The way you chose to depict Pam and her battle is quietly powerful. Beautiful writing.

I did spend time today at her journal reading very early entries along with newer ones. Some I had already read, but I wanted to read them again. I am glad I did. She radiated strength and humor and, as you pointed out, honesty.

People like that do not come along every day.


Anonymous said...

Well said! You have such a way with words! Pam was very special and she touched soooo many hearts. Lisa/CW2sMom

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