I know a lot of people today will probably be thinking about where they were and what they were doing two years ago. It was a historic day, and one of those 'where were you?' moments. As for me, I know exactly where I was. But as thrilled as I was by the results of that night, this isn't about politics.
I was at my parents' house, having literally jumped on a train to come back home. I would have gone to extremely long lengths to get there, and it almost led to me quitting my job at the time. It was the day I said goodbye to my oldest friend.
I was on my own the night I found out that she had died. My phone had broken, and it took me buying a new one, and picking up a voicemail from her sister to find that she wanted me to call her. Though I couldn't get straight through, I knew in my heart of hearts what had happened. It was freezing cold, when I got through to her, and I very nearly sank to my knees outside the bank when I actually heard the words.
Pam met me first when I was maybe six years old. A good number of years older than me, she was my brother's guitar teacher. After he gave it up, she was my guitar teacher, then my singing teacher. She understood me and encouraged me in a very different way to everyone else in my life. She believed in me, and I never knew her once to doubt me, or raise her voice at me, despite my being a very frustrating student. We were more than student and teacher. All the while, she was one of my closest friends, and we loved each other. We clicked. We had loads of the same interests, and she had every faith that I could do whatever I put my mind to. She helped guide me through the early stages of my walk with God, and a thousand other things that I will forever be thankful for.
On 4th November, 2008, after running full sprint through York city centre to jump on a train, and change out of my work uniform in a still moving train's toilet, I was among the many others who gathered to say goodbye to her.
Monday was the 1st November, which marked my 1 year and six month mark of living with Type 1. And unlike last year, all I found that I could think about was how much I missed Pam. Possibly because of the whole media circus surrounding the US midterm elections, I don't know why, but all I could think about was how much I wanted to talk to her.
I remember our last conversation, which was on my mobile phone, whilst I was sat in an otherwise abandoned car with a completely empty petrol tank. I was on tour with a small scale touring children's theatre company, and whilst we were en route to our afternoon show, our fuel had totally run out. My touring partner (and really good friend) had gone to try and hitch-hike to the nearest petrol station, and left me locked in the car (I don't advocate this strategy to anyone else, for the record). The high winds from up in the hills were rocking the car back and forth, and I was nervous. So I called Pam for a chat. She was in bed, ill, but we talked for a good half an hour until he got back with a can of petrol.
If I had known that the last time we talked would have been the last time we'd talk, I would have said so many things that I didn't. How I would forever be thankful to her for how she had taught me how to be a better artist, a better Christian, and a better human being. That I loved her, and felt privileged to even know her, let alone consider her one of my best and closest friends. Of course, I didn't know it would be the last time we talked, and of course, I didn't say those things. I like to think that she knew, though.
Pam had serious chronic health problems, and had her whole life. She was born with spina bifida, and had many complications because of it. She had an amazing life, and accomplished so many things that it makes me feel lazy. Even in her worst periods of health, she was gracious and loving, and full of life and humour. To me, she was the epitome of a Chronic Babe.
When I was diagnosed in May last year, she was the one that I wanted to talk to. The one I knew would understand, and that I could say absolutely anything to. But of course, I couldn't. I've wanted to talk to her about things at least once every week, but usually more. But of course, I can't. And of course, I still want to. I wish I could talk things out with her. I've wanted to bend her ear over the whole pump issue, for instance. I've got to console myself with what I think she'd probably tell me.
I wonder sometimes what she would think of me and the way that I've handled things. I like to think that she'd be pleased with my transition from total newbie to knowing my way around things. I know she'd be pleased in my keeping this blog. She was a wonderful example of a pre-internet advocate for all sorts of health issues. If she'd been online, she would have been one of the movers and shakers - that I know without a doubt. It's a shame she never owned a computer, really.
I'll never know the answers to those questions, though. Not in my lifetime. All I know is that I loved her, and that right now, I really miss my friend.