I lost a friend this month. After years of struggling with the loss of her daughter in a car accident, she took her own life. Pam and I met in massage school, which is a very special and unique place. Everyone shows up with their insecurities about their own bodies. Add to that all the myriad feelings we have about other people's bodies. Then you get naked and practice working on each other, which is nerve-wracking to say the least. The bonds that get formed are tight, tender and nurturing. Our school was small, there were 10 of us at the beginning, I think 8 of us were left at the end. Pam and I connected immediately and we paired up with each other the majority of the time.
I came into that school with some heavy anxiety. I was molested when I was 12 by a man who used the term "massage" to legitimize the destruction of boy's lives. Being told where and how to touch someone has always been a massive trigger for me. My path to massage school was a long and winding road, but at the end of that road, I found myself in a small room with 9 strangers and a lot of apprehension.
Pam was my safe place.
We spent 20 hour weekends together for a year. We talked a lot and I came to understand just a fraction of the pain she carried. I didn't know Pam before she lost her daughter, so I can't say what she was like then. When I knew her she was a sweet, kind and generous woman who was also, unfortunately, broken in a profound way.
As I said, massage school is unique. I remember the smell of Pam's hair, a couple of moles she had, and the way her hands felt as they eased into the muscles of my always too-tight traps. I remember how dirty her feet always were from going barefoot. I know she cherished her husband, both of her daughters, her wide community of friends, and a couple of small elderly dogs.
Her hands shook.
Small tremors that may have been telling a story of what was going on under her own skin. When she used very light pressure, it was obvious, and endearing in a way. When she moved deeper into the muscle, the tremors were undetectable as she set about her work. She was good at it.
Pam was a searcher, a seeker of healing for herself and others. She helped countless people as a teacher, friend, and bodyworker. I'm deeply saddened by the choice she made, and hopeful that she found what she was looking for.
She left the world a little better than she found it, and it's a little less well off now that she's gone.
Safe travels, my sweet friend.