Friday, April 21, 2006

One of the Few Real People Has Gone

I’ve written a lot about the frustrating nature of internet friendships. Yes…they are a whole different category of human interaction. Maybe that’s the problem. Internet bonds are human interaction mutated by technology. The resultant relationships are sometimes freakish and a little scary. Let’s face it, it’s easy, fun even, to portray yourself as someone else on the internet. The technology has created this great big fantasy land. You can be anyone you’ve ever wanted to be. Or, even if you don’t create a completely fictional persona for yourself, you can still edit what you let people see of the real you—make yourself a little more comical, a little less anal retentive. I think we’ve all done that at one time or another.

But every once in awhile, a real person takes up residence in journal land. One who writes from the heart, who shares happiness and heartbreak freely and openly. Who reaches out selflessly and guilelessly to others. Who doesn’t hide behind a curtain of fear and falsehood. It’s funny. The rest of us, those of us who tread timidly, who always keep ourselves at least partially hidden, who write as if we were afraid someone we know might read; like ants to a picnic, we gravitate toward the real people. We have no problem calling them "friends." Even though we don’t (can’t?) offer so much of ourselves, we attach ourselves to ones who do, and wish we could be like them.

This past week, whether we wanted to or not, we have all found out how tragically real the internet can be. For one wrenching moment, the ether of journal land was transformed into substance, by the passing of our most real citizen—Pamela. I have been surprised how profoundly her death has affected me. Like many others, I only started reading Pamela’s journal after she was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. I immediately recognized her generous spirit and genuineness…and I was drawn to her as inexorably as the legions of j-landers who knew her as friend and paragon of the community before her illness. I was hooked…I kept up with every entry, throughout her struggle with the disease. Fearing the worst, yet hoping for the best. And continually awed by her willingness to share such a personal and difficult journey with the entire community.

We will miss you, Pamela. You’ve taken a big chunk of the rare reality of journal land with you. Wherever you are, we know you’re reaching out, making friends, and showing pictures…


  1. I just arrived home from vacation yesterday. My first stop when I logged on yesterday afternoon was at Pam's journal. My heart sunk when I saw that she hadn't made a new entry since before I left.
    I quickly pulled up Nancy's update page on Yahoo. I wasn't at all prepared for the picture I saw saying that she has flown to the angels. I spent several hours last night reading the yahoo board and all of the wonderful tributes to her throughout all of the blog world. I shed quite a few tears which I was surprised by. Like you, I find it hard to find internet "friends" real.
    One thing I know for sure, Pam will be missed immensely. God speed.

  2. I did not read her journal often after she was diagnosed--my own diagnosis with cancer in September scared me so...but she was kind to me when I started blogging. She would answer questions, and her resource blogs were useful. I've felt as though someone important in my life has gone.

  3. This is a really gorgeous entry.  I think that as much as Pam loved journaling she would have loved your reactions to it and your willingness to talk about your struggles with its real/not real aspects.

  4. she will be so missed...

    I am saddened that she never got the quilt we were making for her.


    Chin up Lisa, I love you still.