Headaches. Pain. And what had we done for her? Not a thing. No letter, no phone call, certainly no visit. Inside the cramped chapel, my sister and I teetered in our patent-leather pumps and took in our best friend’s lifeless body. We stood under hot fluorescent lights, burning with shame.
Decades later, I can’t wipe the image from my mind:
A mannequin of skin and bones. A light blue dress— she never wore dresses—and untamable hair primped into shiny straightness. The face betrays her most of all. It resembles that of a porcelain doll, white and ghastly, with disks of rouge swirled over both cheeks.
Seeing Pam’s face made me understand how awful things had been for her over the previous months—months when I’d been partying with friends, pining over the class valedictorian, signing yearbooks and pondering the mysteries of life after high school.
All those months Patti and I had barely given our best friend a second thought. We didn’t have all the information, but we knew enough. The headaches, the pain. We should have been there for her. We should have realized how bad things had gotten.