Wednesday, May 9, 2007

This is the story of a little girl's diary.

On a trip to Austin about 5 years ago, I found and purchased a old diary at Uncommon Objects on South Congress.

The story inside, although brief, is heartbreaking and compelling. Since gaining custody of this poor, discarded diary (for $2, I might add), I've never stopped wondering about its author -- and her fate. Who was Shelley Newman?

I know a few things, but not enough to piece together the story.

1. She lived somewhere near the coast.

2. She had a sister named Sybil (who played the piano).

3. She was a very sick little girl.


Shelley's diary, at least some 40 or 50 years later, contains a grand total of 5 entries. (Several pages are missing.)

January 13

"Dear Diary,

My shout hurt. Not to much. But the nurse put the shout in my seat & left the niddle in & squred the shout off & put another shout on & Oh!"

January 14

"Dear Diary,

Today I'm still waiting for the nurse. I've been shaking all day long.

Buster came out & talked, talked & talked

All day I've been shaking"

January 15

"The nurse came early today, It [hurt] a little & don't fell so well.

Grandma & Grandpa came out today and they stayed wiht [sic] me. They gave me a book of Valentine cards."

January 16

"Dear Diary,

The nurse came out early today. It hurt! The nurse talked about the ocean & I got homesick.


Now I'm watching T.V. It's AMERICAN BANDSTAND."

January 17-20, pages missing

January 21

"Dear Diary,

Today I did nonthing [sic] but watch T.V. Ave-Nell & Larua [sic] came over and that was not fun.

Grandma came to take Sybil to piano.

Thats all I did. I got some letters from school two."


This is how Shelley's diary abruptly ends -- letters from school.

But also tucked inside the diary is an undated letter to Shelley's mother from her grandmother. [Edited: I know now that Leslie was her father, not her mother.] It's written on perforated note paper, and sometime in the past year I misplaced the bottom third. (Aye! I could perforate myself. I know it's around here somewhere, but right now it's MIA. The missing third contained the signature -- "Signed, Mother" -- which is how I know it's from Shelley's grandmother.)

The Letter

"Leslie --

1 - Must learn to believe God loves Shelley more than you.

2. You, Sybil, Dr. La Pierre sit and discuss from your love what you want that is best for Shelley.

3. When you pray you are only doing that same thing with God who not only loves her but also knows your [been?] heartache & loves you.

4. Your problem in prayer is not to talk God into doing something for Shelley. He is far wiser than you.

Your problem is to rid yourself of man made blocks so God can bring His Will to bear _thru_ you.

[missing section of note]

6. Man -- in the mass -- has turned from believing in God & his power momentarily. They believe vaguely & generally. They live in a world of cause & effect relationship

Shelleys problem is caused by this.

To man's present knowledge it is 100% fatal.

Therefore, the effect -- Shelley too must be sacrificed.

7. God says "No! That is not my Will. My will is life."

8. You must talk with Him as often that He can finally convince you of His Will. That is the purpose of Healing Prayer."

Who was Shelley?
Some questions I can't shake. Did Shelley's diary entries stop so suddenly because her health worsened (or improved?)? How old was she, anyway? Does the grandmother sound like a Christian Scientist, or just a really harsh critic of Shelley's mother? (Or is there another interpretation I'm missing?) A friend who grew up in the late 50s, early 60s, said she had a diary identical to this one as a teenager -- when was Shelley writing?

The main question, of course, is whatever happened to her?

This is such a brief glimpse into a (painful) life that may have been long ago lived out. But it seems important to me, for some reason, to remember it, to acknowledge it. Maybe it's the fact that I came across the evidence of this little girl's existence in a thrift store. The diary had been cast off. At some point, someone close to Shelley had possession of this diary and then let it go, gave it over to strangers. Someone who remembered her held this plastic diary, shrugged, and said "No need for this."

Hell, maybe Shelley herself found the diary in a box in the attic, chuckled at words of her child-self, then chuckled at her adult-self for having kept the thing for so long, and tossed it in a crate with old dime store novels and recipe books. Maybe that's how it ended up with me.

Mostly I'm bothered by the fact that the story doesn't have a happy ending -- or any ending at all, that I know of. Even the pseudo-ending of a full recovery, a Shelley Newman very much alive to this day (though she's gained a few too many pounds in her middle age) who gives her grandkids chocolate when their mom's not looking -- it would suffice.

It's maudlin, I guess, but I'd like to find her. It feels like something I'm obligated to do, just so no one else throws the evidence of her life away.


Jasin said...

So what happened?

Lookinfor said...

Hmmmm..I think she was very sick.
I figure that she was so sick. Note itself a certain mental confusion. She inclusive change letters in basic words, (something with polaridade,ou bipolaridade).
Just after your health condition it worsened carrying her to the death.
Their things were delivered to her sister that, when coming back to Austria She preferred to sell your things to throw away.
This, perhaps same don't to know, was a form that Sibyl found to perpetuate the memory of her sister Shelly.

There are several controversies situations.

Imagine that a well-known your commits suicide hanging itself, and we aren't anything, absolutely no record that light it to imagine because he did that.
Then we keep doing conjectures.

The being's unsustainable lightness!!!
A insustentável leveza do ser!


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