Thursday, August 6, 2009
Remembering my friend on her birthday
Today was Dana (Polly Surette) Pastori's birthday.
On July 27,2009 via a front page newspaper article I found out that she had been murdered in 2002, her body discovered in October 2005 in the PostKatrina chaos, and her boyfriend arrested on a million dollar bond in June of 2008. He was convicted of her murder last week as well and sentenced to live in prison without parole.
To say I was deeply affected only begins to describe how I felt. Some will ask, "But if you had not heard from her since 2002 how close could you have been?" and this is a reasonable question.
I met Dana (before she changed her name to Polly) in the early 90's. She moved to New Orleans after she left her husband. She was with me when I was still searching for my path. She was Italian in some of her heritage and definitely in her looks but Norse, very strongly so, in her pagan practices. She wanted us to be able to work together. She hoped that I would, with my Germanic background, find a home in the Norse/Odinic tradition. We shared a love of learning and talking and practicing what we learned. But we walked 2 different paths.
In me Dana found someone who was open and accepting of who she was, all of her facets and I found the same. With each other we could be fully ourselves. She said once, and I knew when she said it that she was right, that I would always be lonely, even with people who were my friends if I didn't feel as if I could share all of who I was: the corporate woman, wife, mother, scientist, and witch. Dana was my friend because we shared all the aspects of our lives with each other and we trusted and could depend on each other.
I remember telling Dana that I was going to try to have (my daughter) a baby. I said (and this was before Raven Grimassi had published Ways of the Strega) that I wanted to invite the souls of those who had passed but who had positively influenced me a place to reincarnate. Dana asked me, quite surprised, where I had read this. I had to think about it but I said, I really hadn't read about it, but it seemed reasonable that if you believe in reincarnation that you'd want to offer a positive environment for your soul family. She just shook her head at me quite amazed.
I also remember the Shadowfest/Halloween in 1994 when we did a ritual to call this soul family while the veil was thin. Dana carved the rune for fertility on the white candle we burned. I was pregnant by the 1st week in December and 34 years old. I have always believed that the power Dana had as a witch helped make my life what it is today.
Dana loved her daughters. She was separated from them by her powerful and mean spirited ex husband. She had visitation rites before she ended up "stealing them". I saw her 2 daughters. I watched and comforted her as she tried every legal means possible to get "the state" to protect them and give her custody. When she took them they were shadows of what children should be, too thin and needing her.
She was able to protect them for years. But her contact with an old friend from the Czech Republic, lead to the police finding her. She was convicted and sentenced to probation, which she served out in New Orleans. She lived with me and my family until she could get back on her feet. Her solace in all this was that she was able to have time with her children when they were young. They got to know their mother. And as a result of her taking them they were watched by the state to ensure that their father would do right by them.
Dana had a complex life. Her father, the man her mother was married to, abused her when she was young. This of course affected her for life. But this man was not her biological father. She didn't know her biological father until later in life. But once she found him was able to connect. He was always good to her and I know that she loved him and his family. I want to be able to remember the good that there was in her too short life.
I wish she had been able to go to the Czech Republic as she said she was in our last conversation. She was getting away from New Orleans, from the US, until her daughters were old enough to be able to ask for her. It was always her hope to be able to reunite with them.
To "seal our friendship" and thank me for the being there "when there was no other", Dana/Polly gave me a magical box, filled with magical charged items. One of the things in this box was her first pentacle. It was made by a pagan from a piece of her jewelry, a peridot (our shared birthstone) earring. She said it "showed me my craft". I wear it to remember her and to strengthen my pagan practice.
One of the things in the magical box was a bird nest "plucked from a tree by my love", the man who killed her. She said I should use it if I ever needed to renew my life. Just yesterday I took the nest to the Mississippi River and tossed it in. I do want to renew my life. I'm sure Polly understands this perfectly. I also wanted her and me to be free of any connection to her murderer. Watching the nest sink into the river helped me release my friend.
Before her divorce she was in a terrible accident and literally died at the hospital. She always said this changed her. It opened her to the pagan path in a powerful way. I'll always be glad that she and I shared a small part of this lifetime together. She was a unique individual who never stopped learning from her experiences even when they weren't all good. I hope to meet know and remember her in another lifetime to come.