April 29, 1996 -Monday – 12:15 p.m.

Yesterday was really nice at church.  I brought the key ring to give to Laura, but when the service started, she wasn’t there.  For some odd reason I was nervous and kept replaying in my mind what I was going to say, even though she wasn’t there.

But then, she was.  She came in late.  I could see her out of the corner of my eye.  After the amazing service was over, I went up to her and said something, but now I have no memory of the words that escaped my mouth.  But I do know that I did give her the key ring.

She smiled and almost seemed a little surprised, but at the same time, looked like a little girl at Christmas opening a gift she already knew in advance she was receiving.  She said, “thank you” about three times and showed it to her dad.  I watched her hands as she opened it.  Her fingers were shaking.

That afternoon, Vince, Dan, and Jeff and I went up to Grandfather Mountain.  The wind was blowing so fast up there.

I took two exams this morning and did really well.

In a week’s time, I’ll be back at McDonald’s.  But in a little over a month, I’ll be back here. I begin RA training on August 13th.

And four days after that, I’ll celebrate my 20th year in the shadowlands.

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April 26, 1996 – Friday – 10:30 a.m.

I learned the most amazing thing yesterday.  I videoed all of the Omega speeches yesterday.  A senior named Jason was the last one to give his speech.  He spoke on morality in the arts.  It was a wonderful speech.  But after it was over I raised my hand and said, “Hollywood seems to make stories about what it actually going on, if we look at the movies, then look at the news, there’s no difference.  So do you think America has been spiraling downward with it’s overall lack of morality in news and entertainment?

He said, “As artists we are not supposed to take the junk the world already has and give it back to them.  That’s what business men do.  Artists should not show people who they are, they should show people who they can become.”

His answer really humbled and I saw it has a huge challenge to make the world a better place.

After that, Kate and Charlie and I went to Boone.  We stopped at the Christian Book Store and I bought a nice brass key ring.  But I did not buy it for myself.  Laura and I were talking one time about how she needed a nice key ring since she now had a nice car.  So, I saw a nice one and bought it for her.

The three of us ate at Pizza Hut, goofed around, and laughed our head off.  We didn’t go to Bible study; we had too much studying to do.

My fourth semester.  My second year.  It’s just about over.

April 25, 1996 – Thursday – 10:10 a.m.

Tuesday night I received the Gary Juhan Leadership Award for being an amazing Resident Assistant.  It was almost like the Oscars.  Wednesday evening at the Performing Arts Banquet, I received a certificate for my special achievement and commitment to the department.  The banquet was a really special time.  We watched a video with dozens of clips from the seniors.  I will miss them.

After the banquet and after the team meetings, we went to church.  There we watched a slide show of old beach trips that happened before I got there.  I talked to Laura afterwards, she may be working at Bamboo Gardens, across the street from LMC, during the summer.  I told her I would visit her.

FCA was meeting at the Holston Camp about a mile away.  Vince and Ellen and I went early just to walk around.  We took a short trail to a neat rock and screamed and shouted and heard our echoes.

The sun was setting.  It was a beautiful time.

We had a camp fire for the meeting; we sang songs and ate smores.

I took a moment and stepped away and walked down toward the lake.  I stood and looked up at the moon.  It was not a full moon, it was a half moon.  I realized I’m not looking for the sun, but instead for the other half of the moon.  The other side of me.

I prayed and committed my life to the Lord, and then I asked him for a special friendship with Laura.

This morning I had an appointment with Dr. Ellis in Boone.  He wanted to look at my mouth.  I’m healing, but slowly.  Sharon took me.  As always, we had a great conversation. I can tell her so much and she understands.  She’s a friend, a mother, she’s everything.  I love her greatly.

Tomorrow is the last day of classes.  Exams end on Tuesday for me.

And five days after that, Charlie will graduate and I’ll return to my old home, only to miss this place and wish to return.

April 23, 1996 – Tuesday – 9:05 a.m.

Last night I rented The Usual Suspects.  The most amazing ending.  I couldn’t believe it.

My lip is slowly getting better.  I was invited to go to Honors and Awards tonight.  Tomorrow night after church we are going to go to Sharon’s to watch Babe.  Then there is a Bible study at Sharon’s on Thursday.  Friday is the last day of classes.

As I was walking back to my room from breakfast, I stopped.  I looked around me.  Two years.  I’ve been here for two years.

It’s hard to believe that in two weeks I will be back in the ancient place of Siler City.

My time in the shadowlands is moving quickly.  I haven’t heard from Jonathan since he left my house on that cold winter night with no place to go.  Emily seems she has decided to not write me back.  I’m glad she is the one and not me.

But soon I will dance on silver moonlight and walk through velvet field.  Hopefully they, and all the others, will do the same with me.

Daylight, see the dew on the sunflower

And the rose that is fading

Roses wither away

Like the sunflower, I yearn to turn my face to the dawn

I am waiting…for the day.

April 21, 1996 – Sunday – 8:10 p.m.

A hard day, but I learned so much.  My lip hasn’t gotten much better.  I felt really light headed this morning.  During the service, Molly and her friend Autumn sang a beautiful song.  The pastor gave a great sermon.  In Sunday School we learned about the last days and this afternoon I read the play Shadowlands.  All of this came together in my mind to form one central truth about life:

Real life hasn’t yet begun.

As I slept last night in my most wonderful bed with my teddy in my arms, I dreamt.

I dreamt of a girl.  She is 16, she has long black hair, she attends my church and goes by the name of Laura.  In this dream, just her and I were free, in a very nice car, driving out west.

We were in Arizona.  All we did was drive and talk.  We were a couple; the most perfect couple that ever existed.  By the end of the dream I dropped her off at a campsite.  A sign was posted at the entrance saying, “Laura Loves Someone.”

She walked up the trail and looked back and smiled.

I knew that someone was me.  My lip was even healed.  Life was perfect.  But my dream ended.  Sunday morning had arrived.  I was in North Carolina.

It took me a while to clean my lip of all the dry, crusted, saliva.  I finally made it to church, feeling very weak.  I discovered another odd something growing in my mouth.  I didn’t know what it was and I still don’t.

I grew very stressed.  I went to the bathroom and prayed.  During the service I was unable to sing.  Everyone kept asking me how I was doing.  I simply said, “Not too good.”

Jim’s sermon was on the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.  There’s a time for everything.  Good times.  Bad times.  It all equals out to be even.  Therefore my problems with my lip will be evened out with something good later.  Just like the terrible week I had before Spring Break was awarded with Arizona.  It helped me to handle my health problems better.

I saw Laura, but she did not speak to me.  She even came to Lees-McRae today to play tennis; Molly and others came as well.  I didn’t see them much though.  I had to read Shadowlands and go to the PA year end work call.

Which reminds me of last night.  Don had a party with a live band and all.  Don is our Technical Director.  He’s really cool.  I worked for three hours then went to the RA banquet.  When that was over, I went to the library, then came back here.

Earlier today though, as I read Shadowlands, was so special.  That play has so much truth.  This world is only the shadowlands of what is to come.  Shadows exist because of light.

April 20, 1996 – Saturday -10:00 a.m.

I became really sick on Thursday.  I didn’t go to Fitness for Life.  The only thing I’ve eaten in the past two days is apple sauce and mashed potatoes.  My lip is so huge.  It really hurts.  I videoed the dance concert last night.  The Performing Arts Department bought a new camcorder; it is so amazing…it does so many little things.  I have it here now.  I get paid to use it; isn’t that great!

In 15 days I head back to Siler City.  For exactly four weeks, I’ll work at McDonald’s, go to Abundant Life, and go to a few movies.  My main concerns now are that my lip gets better and I do well on my exams.

April 18, 1996 – Thursday – 10:40 a.m.

Vince and I went to breakfast at 7:30 a.m. this morning.  I was supposed to meet Sharon in front of the student center at 8:00.  She took me to Boone so I could get this cyst taken out of my mouth.  They numbed my lip; it’s so swollen right now.  It hurts.

On the way there though, Sharon and I had a wonderful conversation.  We talked about Laura.  There is so much about her that I am not aware of.  She holds so much in that she only shares with her mother.  I wish I could share all of my thoughts with someone.  But I only write them in here, at least some of them anyway, where no one will ever read them.

The way Sharon describes Laura, it’s like she’s talking about me.  But Curtis and Vince are pursuing her, I think.  I always get in the way of everything.

I also told Sharon something I haven’t told anyone.  When Allen and Vince accepted the Lord and became Christians and got baptized, it was Charlie who baptized them.  And Pastor Jim and Charlie would say that Charlie was the one who talked to them.  And Charlie did a little bit, but Vince and Allen know, as much as I know, that I was the first person they talked to.  Mine was the lifestyle they noticed.  They were my friends a long time before they even got to know Charlie.  But I was not thanked.  I was given no credit.

But that was okay by me…because I knew that the Lord knew.  Sharon told me she felt the same way.  She told Bob, “Charlie didn’t do a thing.  It was Jacob.”

I’ve always been different.  No girls ever see me as anything more than just Jacob.  But I’m comfortable with this.  I would rather Charlie get all the credit.  I wouldn’t know how to handle it.

Sharon always compliments me on how well I do with my faith in the Lord.  She said God brought me here, knowing Curtis, Vince, and Allen were coming here.  It was his plan for me to influence them.

God’s not through with me yet.  I still have many miles to go.  It’s going to be very hard leaving this place.

I see a storm coming.

It is two years away.