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CIRQUE

May 1981 . . . I didn’t want to meet people who were dying . . . . So why was I on my way to a KublerRoss Life, Death and Transition (LDT) Workshop? The joke, I already knew, was that after resisting powerfully, she became an Elisabeth Kubler-Ross disciple and an expert in working with terminally ill people. Leota’s self-deprecating account of her first experience with mat therapy and the intense emotions she witnessed in other participants made me feel as if we were talking across a tiny table in a coffee shop. I heard her twangy speech in my head while I made minor changes to punctuation and spelling and broke up pagelong paragraphs. Soon there was more than her voice. I sensed that she, or her essence, was hovering above the file cabinet beside me. This made me feel wistful but also deeply connected. It dawned on me that reading another person’s life story so closely was an intimate act. Every paragraph disclosed information I hadn’t known about her. The first chapters moved fast and the repairs were easy. Then I started finding scenes that required more detail. How would l I get the information? All I knew was what she’d written and some anecdotes she’d shared over lunch or coffee. I pondered, read, emailed questions to her adult daughter who had valuable information at times, but other times knew no more than I did. I needed to ask Leota. Why not? She’d been a person who communicated with “Angels.” A Jungian psychologist had told her he believed her voices came from the collective unconscious, which Jungians consider the accumulated wisdom of all humanity, and that something in her brain or psyche enabled her to tap into it. Did I really believe that, though? Well, sort of, because of a psychic friend named Gloria, who I knew in the 1970’s. Gloria was always relating predictive dreams and later giving the details of how they’d come true. Newspaper articles supported some of her stories. What fascinated me most was that Gloria didn’t like her ability. She wanted it to quit imposing responsibility and fear upon her. Like Gloria, Leota was conflicted about her unusual gift. Raised Pentecostal, as a adult Blueberries

she’d rebelled against belief in spirits and miracles, so her reaction to “those damn Angels” was the opposite of welcoming. Her disrespect for them made it easier for me to believe her accounts of them. I wished I had the abilities she and Gloria did, but it seemed that I was unreceptive to the psychic realm. Or was I? Despite my ESP limitations, I did feel Leota in my office. Was that simply an expression of my grief, or was there an actual presence? I didn’t know, but in my mind I began talking to her. “Can’t you share your Angels with me and have them give me the missing information? Come on, Angels.” The first problem I threw at her was the chapter in which she related that the only training she received for her counseling position in the Alaska MatanuskaSusitna Alcoholism Council in the 1980‘s was through a Community College course designed for Native Alaskan tribes. As the only white person in the class, she’d experienced uncomfortable cultural conflicts and insights. The anecdotes were interesting and touching. And yet . . . . “Leota,” I thought to her, “do you think this part is off-theme?” I’d learned that term when she decided, during a Saturday Group meeting, to pull a chapter from her book because it didn’t fit the overall theme. I considered that decision an example of how smart she was. No voice, Leota’s or an Angel’s, answered my question. Yet within minutes, a nifty solution occurred to me. I cut most of the chapter, preserved two paragraphs and slotted them into another chapter that dealt with

Scott Banks

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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