My dear friend, Pamela Bone of Melbourne, Australia, lost her battle with multiple myeloma--ironically, given her name, a bone cancer--about five weeks ago. We met online, during her remission, through our mutual work and writings about dishonor killings and human rights. Pammy was an extremely modest, unassuming person. She never told me she was a superstar journalist in Australia. . .I found that out on my own one day, when I carelessly Googled her name. Naturally, when I called her out on it, she was dismissive of her achievements.
We e-mailed each other several times a week, called, sent letters and little pressies to each other. Pammy was candid and forthright about her health situation. Her kind of multiple myeloma was terminal, and she'd already decided that, when it returned, she wouldn't put herself through any more extreme measures. But she also told me she was feeling pretty well, a little low on energy at times, but not bad. She also told me on several occasions that her death wouldn't be sudden. She would know from her blood counts of her cancer's return, and her death would be gradual. There would be time. But, still, I think we both knew we had to make the most of whatever was left. That knowledge added urgency and importance to our friendship.
Pammy's first bout with multiple myeloma in 2004 forced her into early retirement from her long-held editor's position at one of Australia's leading newspapers. She was not one to sit idle, though. She wrote a book called Bad Hair Days (http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Hair-Days-Pamela-Bone/dp/0522853692/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212354204&sr=1-1), she continued to write opinion pieces for the Australian press, and, at the time of her death, she was writing a book questioning why Western human rights organizations aren't doing more to advocate for universal human rights.
As part of her research, she took a month-long around-the-world trip at the beginning of this year and slipped in a visit to my fair city. Other than to sleep, we didn't leave each others' sides. We ate, we shopped, we gabbed, we giggled, we went to the theatre, we ate some more, we visited cute little towns in the vicinity, we browsed galleries, we toasted each other. In sum, we had a blast.
Odd as it may seem, I didn't realize she'd be gone for good in about 100 days. From afar, she seemed distracted when she returned to Melbourne, but I knew she was compiling all her research notes and beginning to sit down to write what would probably be her last book. Next thing I knew, she'd inexplicably broken a rib. . .not from an accident, though. As she was doctoring that, I summoned the courage to ask her if her blood count had gone up. She told me it had, but only slightly, not into the worry zone. And then one day she had a stroke, fell into a coma, and passed, all within a period of less than 48 hours.
As deaths go, I suppose it was a good death. She was surrounded by her daughters and her husband. Jurgen told me she wasn't in pain. But those who knew her and loved her are somewhat stunned at its suddenness. My heart goes out to her family. Of course, their loss is the greatest.
It will take a while to adjust to this new reality. I keep checking my e-mail inbox hoping to find one of Pammy's warm and entertaining messages. Unknowingly, I'd sent her an e-mail message after she passed, a serious one, and I wish she'd have gone to her grave knowing its contents. After her rib broke, I'd mailed her a little care package. . .a copy of The Last Lecture (book and video), a candle I'd bought at Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris (she wasn't religious, but she found candle lighting reassuring), a goofy photograph of me at The Citadel in Amman, an article on the latest multiple myeloma treatments that I'd clipped from The Economist. Mortifyingly, Jurgen told me it arrived after her death. There is news I'd like to share with her and some unasked questions about writing I had for her. And I'm even hanging onto a real-life tale I know would make her crease with laughter.
Meantime, for the left-behind people, life goes on. There is work to do, dishonor killing presentations to give, the usual overhead of daily living. I've not been blogging, although I did hop into Jessica Inclan's blog to participate in some of the silliness there (and thanks for the laughs, ladies!). But I'm aware of the many dishonor killings that have happened in the last month or so. . .multiple pairs of them in India, another one in Jordan, and the murder of the mother of the Iraqi girl who was dishonor killed in March for having a chaste crush on a British soldier. In the midst of grieving a loved one, it is even harder to fathom these intrafamilial murders. Why in the world would anyone choose loss?
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For All Women Foundation