A "Book Of Life"
My life in years one day at a time:

July 4, 2004
"40"
November 10 1998 - November 9, 1999

Turning 40 is supposed to be some kind of turning point for most people. It seems I had a bit of a time getting used to it, as well:

pin Julia gave me!

November 10, 1998
3:10 am
The house is cold, 68 degrees (20 C.), frigid to desert dwellers. The heat, set to 70, just clicked on. I pushed it up to 72. I shiver but at least my thoughts keep me warm:

Writing allows one to order her thoughts, so that all things fall to right proportion, neither minimized or magnified.

In this sacred space, I face myself and learn my hidden angles.

*      *      *      *      *

Finally forty! Yes, today is the day I turn f-f-f-orty. It rolls not well off the tongue. It types awkwardly, too. By the time I'm used to being in my forties, I'll be in my fifties. ...

But I'd already learned the usefulness of writing for sorting out one's troublesome thoughts:

November 15, 1998

The whiteness of a white page, the tactile sensation of its smoothness, the feel of the pen between my fingers. . . there are reasons I don't always use the computer for first drafts. I stretch out on the bed, away from the living room with its loud TV. Soft harp music soothes me. I retreat into depths of self. It's necessary at times to retreat, pull back. I slouch down into me.

*      *      *      *      *

So I'm now on the other side of forty. Another online journalist said she heard of a saying that if you can't imagine yourself old, it means you will die young. It's likely hogwash, but it spooked her. I look at the mirror and imagine my reddish blonde hair gone white. It will be a blonde-white as was my grandmother's. Imagining my nose and ears bigger . . . I'll just fill the lobes with more earrings, no doubt . . . go for four, or five, instead of just three. I'm imagining myself thinner. I'll wear wrinkles proudly. I won't lose my passion. I know that. I won't lose my passion.

The dreams that I've had since youth will still be with me. I'll still be creating words and images, perhaps much finer than now. I'll still wear bright colors. I can grow into this. I'll still thrill to beauty in all its forms. I'll still be me.

I think that's the scary thing about age. People fear they will be someone vastly different than they are now. What a sight we "baby boomers" will be, rocking in our rocking chairs to vintage rock tunes, remembering the glory days! But never forget, each and every day of our evolution is a glory day. I claim this forty-ness. I claim it and make it mine. Forty fits fine.

Epiphanies! I had epiphanies. I remember prior to the one below, Laura and I had had a huge discussion on atheism. My partner Laura proudly considered herself an atheist. Laura was a person who could go from magickal mysticism to extreme skepticism easily. I'm not sure of her mental mechanics, perhaps she just wanted to keep from dogmatism. Meanwhile, she loved to go to Christian forums and argue with the people there. When we lived in Tucson, one Christian, feeling himself quite beleaguered, was certain Laura had sent demons to torment him. He fled to New Mexico and who knows what his torments are now.

Laura was like that. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was partly due to her own getting taken in by a UFO cult when she was in her twenties. Anyway, she turned all the force of her argumentive abilities onto me one summer night as we sat outside in our large yard which accompanied the Casa Grande doublewide. She badgered and badgered. Eventually, something she said made me agree with her, that envisionings of the Deities were all just imagination. She had won the argument. It depressed me greatly, however.

Then I had this epiphany:

November 18, 1998
excerpt

As I laid down tonight, preparing for sleep, I pondered a me fifteen years in the future. I wondered what she would tell me. I could imagine the warm, loving message of encouragement she might have for me. I could almost feel her. . .

. . .And an epiphany came over me so strong that the force of it nearly pushed me out of bed and to the computer:

It was me, all along, the Goddess was, and has always been a part of ME. I haven't lost Her, for She is right there inside of me, the best part of me!

She's the best part of all living things. We like to externalize it, but that's not what it really is. I have long understood how people could believe they are 'channeling' a spirit which inspires their creativity, for poems will arrive in my mind whole. I seem but merely to write down the dictation. I knew it was really coming from that part of the brain people call the 'subconscious', the part from which arises all intuitive leaps. And so with the God/Goddess energy. It's really all right here, within us.

The world seems a brighter place, now.

Perhaps this indeed was a message from future self to past self, although I don't understand the mechanics of that. I was finding the Divine within myself. Several years later, I would read, ''Gods exist as they are evoked to meaningful existence by the individual psyche.'' and know what Dr Acquino was talking about. There's one, however, that seems to have a personality all his own, but to be made manifest, this Force requires the receptive psyche. But that is an epiphany of another day, a few years ahead.

(Note of August 21, 2005)
And perhaps the brief despairing experience with atheism served to strengthen me in the long run. If anyone tried that again on me, well I can say, 'maybe it is 'all in my head''. Maybe it's all 'principle of this', and 'principle of that' and then when the night grows stormy or I look at the stars, and I feel this Something, That Energy, that smiling proud Being, and I don't know the mechanics of it, I can't, not at this stage in my evolution, and I don't need to know. I have this experience and that is enough, of my beautiful Dark Set, and it doesn't matter what others say. I can say, "I bring this meaning to my life, and I have this power, and I can be Divine, in and of my own Self, and maybe that time just prepared me to have the emotional strength for Left Hand Path. For you see, I had been brought to the Abyss, and then found my beautiful Divine Self smiling back, and nothing would ever be the same after that.

Back to year forty:

December 8, 1998
excerpt

So on with this love of words, essentially the love of my own mind. I embrace this me-ness, this succession of thoughts-one-right-after-the-other-without-stopping. Even when I sleep, the window washers of the mind scrub down the days flotsam and jetsam, and the mess on the floor is raked into neat little piles.

Then the dream winds blow, resorting all those little varied colored leaves and detritus into the most amazing shapes. There is an art to that, art of the random, seemingly random.

And for all that, there's some leaves left over the next morning as a usually pleasant reminder of the night time janitor's work. Re-settling, re-ordering, and the slate is wiped clear for yet another day.

Later in December, a recognition that I was devoting too much time to surfing:

December 23, 1998
excerpt of a Conversation With My 'Muse'

What of all the crazed 'surfing' I've done the past few weeks?

You've learned much. You've learned there are many ways to make a sound and have it be heard. You are not poorer for the experience.

Now it is time to take stock. It is time to choose wisely, for time is what we have so little of.

And you know that magnetic pure thing within you. Trust that. It will lead you to your destiny. No more can I say.

Thank you for your words.

You welcome. You took the time to listen . . .

On January 3, 1999, we saw the "Splendors of Ancient Egypt" exhibit in Phoenix. I learned, ''There were at least twenty gods and goddesses who the Egyptians petitioned for various needs of their lives. But their interests were not only in matters of the supernatural, for they also had a great deal of knowledge of engineering, mathmatics and astronomy. They were the first to divide the day and night into twenty four hours and to use clocks. We also owe our calendar of 365 days to the Egyptians.''

Time! The awareness of time and the speed of its passing seems to be ever with me:

February 8, 1999
excerpt

How many times have I let this little voice within nag me: "You're too slow! You didn't get enough done!" Over and over it picks at me. All it does is make me feel bad. This taskmaster does nothing to increase my productivity. One would quit under such a boss. One would just up and quit. Yet I've allowed this voice rail at me while I sheepishly go about my chores. We watched "The Horse Whisperer" yesterday. A mother brought her hurting horse and daughter to this man skilled in bringing out the best in horses. Part of his magic was patience. I need patience with myself. I allow myself that. I release this taskmaster and send her on her way. "Be gone with you! " I tell it in firm tones. I'll have to shoo this villian away often, I suspect. But soon, we will learn. In whatever time it takes, we will learn.

Over five years later, that voice is still at me. It still does nothing to increase my productivity. I mostly ignore it, and continue in my slow, plodding way.

On December 14, 1998, I was resolved to conquer my diet troubles, and began a new journal dedicated to this purpose. I lamented, ''It's just that I KNOW there's a 38-28-38 somewhere deep within this 45-35-45.'' Five years later, with 47-37-45, I'm still struggling. But that waistline used to be 39 a few months ago.

This journal, which is still ongoing, turned out to be a place of more informal and spontaneous expression, than my earlier journal.

January 10, 1999
excerpt

I've been filling my mind with all sorts of thought provoking sources lately. For instance, this snippet I found in my web travels today.

"THERE never was a more intensely egotistical diarist than W. N. P. Barbellion. He tells us that as a child he considered himself a prodigy and was bitter with those who insisted on regarding him as normal. ‘I can remember wondering ...’ he says, ‘if I were a young Macaulay or Ruskin and secretly deciding that I was.’"

Oh, I sure can relate. Barbellion might have held the prize for egotism in his short (1889-1919) life, but as soon as Joan Lansberry entered the world, she yanked it right out of his cold dead hands. For I often have wondered "if I were a young Dickenson, Sappho, or Whitman, and secretly deciding that I was." Not so secret anymore. I must find a copy of his pages and have a look.

I got sidetracked, and did not buy that book. My library is growing with books I mean to read. It's going to grow further. Some of them, I've actually read. Back in 1999, I pondered the meaning of intelligence:

January 26, 1999
excerpt

There are different types of intelligences. One thing the really really smart do is discuss intelligence. I must say the stuff in that there preceding url leaves me highly confused. Why, of course, that's because I ain't that smart. But I can say I really like being in my own head. Some of the people who belong to the ultra ultra high intelligence societies feel drawn to them because without them, they have no one who understands them. I would hate to be that 'smart'. I would hate not being able to make myself plain to the common person on the street. That's when smartness becomes almost a handicap. I'm truly glad I'm not gifted in that sort of way. (Or maybe I am, and you can't understand a friggen' thing I say? Hmmmm.) At any rate, it's nice here in my head. That's all that really matters, in the long run.

January 27, 1999
excerpt

Where do you really wish you were right now? That's a question a pop quiz asked me tonight. Right here, right now is the answer. I'm surfing before "Star Trek Voyager" comes on. Laura's playing a computer game (Fallout II) which features Louis Armstrong singing "Give me a kiss to build a dream on" at periodic intervals. I love that old time sax. Julia's listening to her classical music. All is mellow. Show starts in three minutes.

February 5, 1999, I have a favorite journal entry on the things I love:

February 5, 1999
excerpt

I love humanity. We're not all bad. I love that I'm alive to experience all these things. I love that I can dream and wonder and ponder. I love how the mind can possess something that no one can take away. I love dripping my thoughts all over cyberspace here, there and everywhere. I love reading the thoughts of others who do the same. It's good to be alive. It's good to sing and dance and have ecstacy. It's good to appreciate ourselves. It's good to be alive. I love writing with a large hand, broad, not cautiously on the screen of life. Ah-h-h-h-h! Si-i-i-i-igh, Hi-i-i-i-gh Si-i-i-i-igh! Ah-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h!

I love that exuberance!

February 9, 1999
excerpt

We live in such a time-conscious world that even the characters in a role playing game are 'aware' of it. Laura left her Baldur's Gate people sitting while she went about making Julia a salad. Sitting side by side with her machine, I could hear their 'conversation'. One at first complained of boredom, then it was"You think we could be doing something USEFUL with this time!

February 20, 1999
excerpt

I feel hungry for so many things, but it is not food. I need to learn what is missing within me. I cry, needing something. What?

Oh to find the wide open spaces within myself. I feel so crowded in. What is all this stuff? I must release it. The housekeeping of the soul awaits.


©JAL, 1999

February 22, 1999, I enjoyed an Orchid show in Tucson. Both Glen and I were busy with our digital cameras. I had "85 flower pics to sort through!" Then it became "160 flower photos to pick through. Glen brought over a disc with all of his results as well." Quite a pleasurable task, though.

February 25, 1999
excerpt

(The following is a combination of our cards to each other. I took the flower I'd used in my digital card, along with the poem Laura wrote. )

Exciting as a roller coaster ride,
from the day I became your bride,
whirling, spinning like a top,
my dearest wish, it never stop!

And as the years have quickly passed,
One question between us remains unasked,
If we could live forever and a day,
what could we do better than today?

~LDL~

There's something about this captured moment that pleases me:

March 11, 1999
excerpt

There are no more sweets left in the house! I ate about half of the container of chocolate pudding; Laura got the rest.  All the cookies and ice cream bars are gone.  The half-gallon of mint ice cream is, too.  I only had a little bit of that, though.  Laura ate over 1/3 of it Tuesday.  I had a fairly reasonable portion, (By little piggie standards, anyway!).  Then Laura showed up yesterday afternoon wanting cuddling. I had to laugh. Dark brown lined the edges of her lips and spotted her blouse. She smelled faintly mint-like. I made her confess: Yes, she polished off the REST of it. She also confessed to having a tummy ache!    Feeling her belly, there was a cold spot on her tummy, where inside, the digesting of it was going on.   I, of course, took full advantage of the chance to razz her.

In retrospect, as a writer capturing my life, it may be the quiet moments, the ones we don't think are significant at the time, that in the recalling, may have a precious quality all their own. Laura was always begging for me to write more details of our actual lives together, and now I better understand why. I can relive this moment. It dies not.

April 7, 1999
excerpt

bathroom view
I find myself looking out windows, at the moving clouds and wind-tossed trees

We received sad news April 9, 1999. The twins of Anton, Laura's son, and Cynthia did not survive. They each had maybe an hour worth of life before they died. ''Farewell, dear sweet potentialities, Christopher and Sean. You were not meant to be. Farewell.''

April 22, 1999
"A Ramble That May Or May Not Make Sense"

Where is this rage and where is the space for it? So much within and not enough to say it. How say it? When say it? Is it enough to say it? What can I do with it? Fashion stitched garments of spiky irritation that I wear to remind me of what it is I'm not allowing myself to forget. Say this thing over and over. This thing I can't seem to expunge. This anger, damn it! Of what use is it? Can I use it to propel me and to where? Reason is lurking somewhere to direct. Fire the fuses up, set this thing off. See where it goes, Maybe it will set its own direction. What will happen if I let it do that? Shall I? Or without direction, do we simply explode, setting off a trail of destruction that echoes one knows not how long?

No, I'll not do that. There must be some aim to the thing, not random. I think this heat can be purified, I can feel it coming. I feel a limberness coming to my hands. A dexterity that will fashion something useful. I have that power. I am a woman with power. I will not say how large a power. Neither downsizing self, nor artificially pumping it up. It is what it is. And yet, it will suffice. The rage at things that shouldn't be may not change the world. But maybe I can change a small thing here, or a small thing there. Rearrange the furniture of my mind, at least. Some action should follow. Even a dish that needs washed is useful in the washing. Every little bit, that's how the daily wheel turns. Maybe that wheel doesn't always go fast enough to suit me. But I can make that thing go. See, it just takes a little push. Small things are best. From them, perhaps larger things. Perhaps not. But small things first. All the rest depends on these. Maybe I'll wash a dish.

Yes, the ramble makes sense. In retrospect, it makes more sense, because of the things which were just beginning at this time.

April 25, 1999
Picnic at South Mountain Park

This park features quite a few piles of rocks in loose formation. Julia happily posed against the rock background. Besides being her charming self, she served as a good size reference by which to gauge rock height.

Unbeknownst to me, rocky times were ahead for the triad. They were to further when Laura went off wandering with Shayna, a 29 year old woman who we'd met through the web, who joined us in this picnic. Laura began spending more and more time alone with Shayna. I, indeed, was nervous about the portents of this.

(Note of December 20, 2009)
(With the hindsight of ten years, I wonder why Julia and I were so willing to tolerate this. But Laura always knew how to be persuasive. It was an extremely painful time for me, yet I made 'the best' of it, as I could conceive of at that time.)

May 14, 1999

We aren't moving, thank goodness! We've done Enough of that! But there are certainly domestic changes on the horizon. Shayna is joining our family, and the shed will be converted into a shelter for her cats! We aren't able to have even a portion of them inside with us, but this way she will be able to have them near and tend to them. We will create a fenced in cat run so they have roaming room, as well.

The astrology forecast amused me. On the very day we all came to this decision it read "Changes in the home are likely--anything from different people coming and going, to rearranging the furniture, altering hours for meals, bedtimes for kids, etc." Change is one of life's constants.

I was able to find humor, despite challenging circumstances. Humor has always been what sustains me.

May 31, 1999

"What Am I Getting Into?

Shayna, her mother Serena and I were cat transporters. We'd grab a cat and get him in a box, closing it quickly before he'd escape. Fortunately it was just a short trip to their new home.

A Room With A View

How many cats were destined to join that cateau? At the time, I found it "too embarrassingly high to mention." It started out as thirty. Before the tragic end, it grew to be FORTY.

You can well understand that I had some difficulty with adjusting to this. Julia also was not at all keen to it, either. At least they were kept outside, to not irritate Julia's sensitive allergies. Meanwhile, Laura was in love, and the huge number of felines didn't seem to faze her.

June 6, 1999

Excerpts from "Considering All That Went Wrong"

"...On two different times, a cat found a way to escape the cateau. We think all the weak places have been fortified now. But the kitties are resourceful. They'll let us know if any other way of escape exists..."

"This morning Laura and I exchanged tearful words, so it was looking like the whole weekend was going to be crap.

Yet, a few things have happened that have made it not a total loss.

The four of us were sharing epiphanies we've had recently. Shayna sensed a message from divine source (call it Goddess, if you want) about learning to forgive and love herself. Curiously, this was going on in her head when I was working with the Goddess picture that was calling to me. Later last evening, I had a realization which has opened up places in me that I didn't know I could experience. The awakening of my sexual self to experience new heights in union with another was a precious gift. Perhaps I'll go into greater detail in ATTWT concerning this at a later date. Suffice for now, I want to give it that much mention. So those things were grace and hint of further growth to come."

So there it was in the midst of all this mayhem, something that went right. How many couples could accept a third person? How many triads could accept a fourth person? How many triads could accept a fourth person that not all four were in love with? It was a queer time in the Lansberry household. Yes, wanting Laura to be happy, I allowed her the experimentation she needed. Perhaps the ensuing jealousy allowed me to shake loose some deep inhibitions regarding sexual matters, and I had an epiphany.

A fantasy self was more than just fantasy, and I needed to bring it forth in relating sexually to another person. In the midst of all the mayhem, Laura and I were at last able to share what had been long denied us. Of course I ask myself if this had not been the case, would she have found a troubled twenty nine women so attractive?

I can't know that. All that is useless speculation. What was to become increasingly apparent is just how troubled Shayna was.

July 6, 1999


"I want this picture of a snake skelton here, for it speaks to me of spiny, yet flexible strength."

Strength is what I was seeking, yet there is only one way to get that strength:

THE UNTESTED LIFE

It isn't what you think it is,
the sticky tarred night.
It's not the soul's long strain.
It's the way we find ourselves,
piece by piece
getting through each hard step.
The untested life will not train us,  
will not force us to learn
just how strong we really are.

JAL, 8-13-99

I wrote two poems that day:

Bathe

Breathe,
Emerge into the coolness,
let each anointing drop
bless me with its cleansing.  
Let each cool drop
take away
some gathered heat,
until all is
gently subtracted,
leaving only me.

JAL, 8-13-99

Seeking strength, I was, and inspired of nature:

September 11, 1999

Outside, the night sky is alive with whip crack after whip crack of quick light stroking through it. Feeding on this wild electric energy, I bid my soul to capture the light that streaks to nowhere. On these hidden pulses, I enlarge myself against the night, feeding, feeding, feeding. This power that is in the lightening, can it be in me? If it can, I will it.

I craved strength, for the uncertain future frightened me:

At The Intersection

What if I embrace the Unknown
with all the strength I possess?
On such corner I can't see,
will She be waiting for me,
holding out a choice,
hard assignment to test me deep?
Or do I run down the street,
screaming,
fear flight pounding?
He who runs, another will catch,
bringing all that was forsaken,
and heaving it into his unwilling arms.  
Hard now, or worse later,
I might as well stand ready.

JAL, 10-19-99


Halloween, 1999, and a pumpkin grins eeriely.

We were going to go to Tucson for Halloween, but I had a queasy stomach, so we stayed home. A few sips of Laura's BUSHWACKER drink (Kahlua mixed with coconut and other liquours) began my undoing. It tasted so good I forgot all about my queasy stomach and "The zydeco music is playing loudly, the neighbors are over, Julia and Laura are dancing and showing off their fangs. "What the hell, one more little bitty goblet of the luscious stuff couldn't hurt!" It hurt.

A little later, a time for self-examination:

November 6, 1999

"They're All Wearing Masks These Days"

What barriers do you face as you try to write your own truth?

This was the query a writer's group made a week ago. Today, it burns into me. I have so many barriers piled in front of me, and they're all of my own making. How do I know what truth is? I cling to what all may be illusions of self. I like to think of myself as this wise, balanced, sensitive person. What if all I am is sensitive to the feelings of my own hypothalmus? What if I am no more than the frightened cave person, piling up rocks in front of my cave opening, so that what threatens me doesn't touch me? What if I am? How can I possibly know? I'm too close to me. I'm too close to the entity inside which says, "You're right. That which you fear, it IS bad. You have a right to be just as angry as you are. You have a right to be just as jealous as you are. You have a right."

I don't know any more. It's too easy to listen to these seducing illusions. After all, I can make myself feel better that way. And I do like to make myself feel better. It doesn't matter if it rips up someone I love. Just as long as 'ol hypo' is happy. I can sing in my cave. I can paint on the walls in my cave, and nothing else matters.

Fortunately, 'ol hypo' isn't all of me. But weeding him out from my better self isn't easy. They're all wearing masks these days, and I can't tell who is who.

I hint at difficult days there. I don't reveal what is causing the anger and jealousy. Suffice to say, there was much tension between Shayna and I. It grieved Laura, but I was clueless as to what to do about it.

July 4, 2004
"41"
November 10 1999 - November 9, 2000

In the midst of general distress, there were hints of hope:

Kind Thoughts

There is something that
bespeaks of a gift,
quiet in the offering,
perhaps origins unknown,
but it comes,
and I know it true.
While I may not have been there
on the day of its arriving,
there is no doubt
it was meant for me.
I tuck the small thing
into my heart
and smile.
Kind thoughts in the echoing chamber  
will find you again.

JAL,11-10-99

I had few words for November 18, 1999, except that ''It Sucks!'' The next day, I found peace, however. ''Some days you wake up and know you must start anew, put the past behind you, and look towards the future and what it holds, without regrets. This was such a day.''

I did so, and the tension eased.

On November 21, 1999, the four of us went to Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum in hopes of seeing some fall color. Few leaves were turned, but a lovely tranquillity greeted us there.

I was beginning to find the tranquillity within my own self as well.

November 29, 1999
excerpt

How I appreciate the serendipitous fun that comes our way. Last night, Shayna was proudly telling us the ingrediants of her vegetarian 'stuffing' - "bread crumbs, grilled onions, green peppers, tomatoes, nuts. . .", when my sorcerer in "Might and Magic VII", having mixed a potion, happily and loudly announces: "A Perfect Mix!" We all laughed.

Hope met with hope, and optimism again was my portion:

December 3, 1999
excerpt

Born to Fly. . .

The back of the envelope containing my Mother's letter was decorated with this 'born to fly' rubber stamp. She's really into studying all she can about flying. So will she ever get on an actual, real three-dimensional plane, and fly out here for a visit? Yet I'm glad she's got some thing that captures her interest that much. I'm sure, whether or not she gets on an airplane, her spirit is soaring when she thinks about them.

Mental flight, we need that more than anything. For if the MIND has not gone there, the body will never follow. Every single thing that has ever been achieved, had to be first imagined.

With my mind, I can fly anywhere. I can 'be' anyone, dream anything, hampered by few limitations. I can fly to the highest precipices of thought, and there's never any fear of those heights. I can be dizzy with the capacity of the mind's weightlessness as it reaches new vistas every day. The horizon line seems infinite. Hard as I try, I can never reach that fine, even division. But to see it is enough. I have been close to the ground, and seen the little ants busy building their colonies. I have been in an airplane and looked down on the patchwork of human building efforts. I have looked up at the clouds, and seen both feathered bird and metal bird streaking across them. I have followed after them with my mind's eye - birds and people coming and going from their scattered nests. Home is where you feel safe.

But I am always safe in this vehicle of my mind. Even should I spin out of control, somehow I am eventually made upright. There is a homing beacon calling me. I hear it. It says, "Come play up here where you were meant to. Leave those fears on the ground. You can do it!" I hear its echoing waves sounding deep within me. I can't stay on the ground long, for I, like all those of true heart, am truly BORN TO FLY!

Rainbow cloud seen 4-18-99

I found it interesting, the results of an online color preference test I took December 8, 1999. One of the conclusions were:

Your Desired Objective

"Seeks success, stimulation, and a life full of experience. Wants to develop freely and to shake off the shackles of self-doubt, to win, and to live intensely. Likes contacts with others and is enthusiastic by nature. Receptive to anything new, modern, or intriguing; has many interests and wants to expand her fields of activity. Optimistic about the future."

I was feeling optimistic about the future.

How things all changed the next day.

the worst cold is here

December 9, 1999

"Black - Cold Like Death"

Shayna Catkin Lansberry - NÉE Shayna Gertrude Gray
1970 - 1999

Black - cold like death, didn't I just yesterday have that emotional reaction to a color? Just yesterday, when Shayna was still living. Just yesterday, before . . .

The day before, Shayna didn't go to her Spanish class. She'd been working so hard in that class. She was even learning the Printmaster program, so she illustrate a children's story about Mamacita Celestina and her six kittens. That was the final assignment of the class, to write and illustrate a children's story in Spanish. She had three pages already done of the Mama Cat who would educate her children. How Shayna loved cats.

She didn't go to her Spanish class yesterday because one of her cats had taken sick from eating flies which had been poisoned with bug spray. Eentsy was taken to the vet and given atropine, and spent the day mostly sleeping.

Today the cat got sicker, dehydrated. Shayna said the cat felt 'lightweight'. Around 5:00pm, Shayna talked to the vet, who advised the cat should be administered glucose solution. Shayna had some of such medical supplies when Shakti, another one of her cats, died earlier. The last we knew, she'd asked Laura where that bag of cat supplies was. Laura was certain she'd put it in the library.

That was the last we knew. We didn't hear another word from her. Laura and I were busy at the two computers, each in our respective Erathias, getting our heroes built up.

A couple of hours later, we wondered where Shayna had gone. She'd taken the white Pontiac and not told us where she was going. We called Serena, her Mother. No, she hadn't been by.

The three of us, Laura, Julia and I sat in the living room, trying to figure out where Shayna might have gone. It wasn't the first time she bolted all upset, without telling us where she was going. She could be extremely reactive. Yet Laura had done much to help her gain better control of her emotions and better self esteem.

Why didn't she tell us where she was going? We'd have comforted her over the kitty's illness. Laura was sitting in the sofa, aching to give her comfort. But she had just disappeared.

At 9:00 o'clock, Laura told Julia and I to go to bed, she'd nap on the sofa until Shayna got home. I no more than got in my nightgown and crawled in with Julia, when I heard sobs in the living room. "Come, Joan and Julia. Come and get up. I have bad news."

I stumbled out into the living room to see two policeman with Laura. There's been a bad accident. She had been going very fast. Her car hit the edge of the road where it'd been partially repaved, and landed on the lower unpaved portion. She lost control, which made the car flip over and hit a pole. One of them asked to see a picture. I fumbled my way to the computer, and brought up her best picture, the one at her graduation, when she'd been so happy. That's her. He asked me to print it out, and I apologized for only having a black and white printer.

They asked where her parents lived, and told us not to call Serena until they had a chance to deliver the news.

It all still seems so unreal.

It was real, very real, and the aftermath of it took a long time from which to recover. I'll begin the tale of rebuilding our lives in my next day's remembrance.

heart wreath

~ ~~ ~~~ ~~ ~

next section, 41 to 42
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© Joan Ann Lansberry
joanlansberry(dot)yahoo.com