I found out when someone posted a comment in my blog, which led me to the link, and as I read it, I saw her picture for the first time since... I last saw her alive. Castlecon 2? Like some deep fissure, her face brought back some very old feelings. You know that moment in Kill Bill 2, where Elle tells Beatrix that she killed her master, "that miserable old fool," and Beatrix goes mental on Elle and rips out her other eye? Yeah, I felt that same feeling when JoAnne died. I felt I had a lot more to learn from her. She had this knack of really getting to the heart of a matter, and while she wasn't perfect by any means, her imperfections were something she drew from. Some people saw her as this big sexual being, and she was very flirtatious, but I felt we really connected on an "abused past" sort of level, and I saw her as inspirational to get past my own abuse.
Part of me has held this for so long, and I am not even sure why. Like the Beatles, it wasn't so much what they sang or wrote, but when. That's why the magic of their music was so popular. Just a few years earlier or later would have had little to no impact on pop culture. I think JoAnne was like that. It wasn't so much who she was, but when she came into my life, and what she said, and what I needed to hear. I probably only knew her about a year or so before she died. Maybe if she had lived, she would have faded into the past like a lot of other friends I have had. Or maybe not. The timing of her death seemed... too soon. I kept thinking, "No no... too soon... God, no... please..." I am sure I was not alone in this. I can still hear Cindy's wailing in the back of my head.
JoAnne had SO many friends, and I am sure this is rippling among us like some unspoken brotherhood/sisterhood thing. One of the last things we said after the wake was that, as friends of JoAnne, we have to take care of each other in lieu of her passing. It was almost like a blood promise. I am still friends with some of these people, and we just know. And we know she's still taking care of us on some plane or existence somewhere. Many of us have had dreams or visions of her saying or doing things for years.
I have thought about the obvious question, "Do you want to meet the man who killed her?" I don't know. What could I say? "Oh my God, you killed JoAnne... you bastard!" [JoAnne would have liked that joke] From the description in the new article, the guy was 16 when he killed her. I still think there was more than one person, because JoAnne was... well, not exactly demure and petite. A former Marine... well, she was a little on the muscular side. I recall hearing they found the skin and hair of 4 or more people under her nails, and that the crime scene showed she did not go down easy. It took a lead pipe to bring her down. But... again, what could I say? This guy apparently was in and out of jail many times. He's probably more animal than human, and JoAnne's murder probably wasn't some significant thing in his past that stood out from any others. I doubt he even thought about it much except, "I hope they don't find out," like you and I would feel about a minor shoplifting charge when we were 16. I've seen his face. Narrow, bald, with a look like disconnected anger. He looks like any other generic street thug you see on the news. I doubt confronting him would do much good. He didn't know her. He didn't know what he did, and I doubt he cares except now he's going to jail for a LONG time, and possibly facing the death penalty. And I realized that I don't hate him so much as I think the whole death was as unfortunate as, say, someone dying in a car wreck. I honestly think JoAnne was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
My mother's suicide has always been a great source of conflict in me. One, she killed herself, and I had to deal with it alone, and that SUCKED. But, her drinking had so destroyed who she once was, she had become some grinning brainless zombie like McMurphy at the end of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." Her death meant I could start my life. I had no one holding me back as my father did what came natural to him; throwing me out with the rest of the garbage from his past life. Because my mother died, I didn't have to fend for her anymore, clean up after her, or watch her brain turn to soup in what surely would have been an early death anyway. So her death sort of came out good for me in the end, and I have often wondered if JoAnne's death did that for a lot of people in the pagan community. It might sound horrible, but as I recall, she did have some illnesses, and maybe her freewheeling lifestyle might have overextended itself and proved detrimental in the long run. I am not saying either of these deaths made these people a martyr, but sometimes, life cannot start until someone older dies so that others may takes its place. JoAnne's teachings certainly made an impact on me. I still think of her silly smile, and get bouncy personality. She taught me the value of tarot and the knowledge that taking yourself seriously really impresses no one, and honestly, it's a waste of time.
Rest in peace, JoAnne. You've had it a long time coming.