Hi everyone…whew….”oufff”, as they say in French. I’m sorry I haven’t written to you sooner, but it has been a whirlwind time for me, some of it good, some not so good. Life. It happens to us all.
I have been working on a book, which kept me busy. Very busy. And I’ve been dealing with real life. Sometimes, you just can’t avoid it!!! And it’s always best when faced squarely and straight on.
After a wonderful month (of March) in Paris, and a lot of fun here with 3 of my daughters, during Fashion Week and the ready to wear shows, I went back to San Francisco, also for a month, of course to see my children, but as some of you may have read in the press, I attended the sentencing hearings in an embezzlement we discovered in my office l8 months ago. For a great deal of money. A Great Deal. I haven’t said much about it, but other than the financial impact, it was a huge blow to me emotionally as well, as it was perpetrated by my most trusted employee of l6 years, a woman I totally trusted and respected. As always with things like that, the sense of betrayal was overpowering, as much as the loss, which was considerable. And it has been a long, painful l8 months, going through the process of investigation, guilty pleas, plea bargaining, the federal justice system, a civil suit to try and recoup some of the money, and finally the sentencing in federal court two weeks ago. At the sentencing was the first time I saw the embezzler since the crime was discovered. And it was very emotional for me. All of my children flew in to San Francisco and came to the sentencing, as did all of my other employees to lend their support. It was one of those things one hopes never to go through, but it happened. It is over now. She has been sentenced and is going to prison. In some ways, although painful, it was a relief to see her again, to be able to look her in the eyes, knowing what she did. For all these months, I have been haunted by it, and what she did. How can someone you have been fair to, and kind to, and trusted so implicitly, do something like that to you? Some people do. It’s a sad fact of life. And I wasn’t careless in my financial dealings; I have always been the only person who signs checks on my accounts. But in spite of that, I was embezzled, and clever ways were found to steal my money, which I work very, very hard for. Anyway, it happened. The sentencing happened. And we can move on now. The only really startling moment in the proceedings, was that as we left the court room, with no forethought or plan on my part, I found myself walking a foot away from where she sat, as I left the courtroom, and after l6 years of knowing her and caring about her, and the agony of this past year and a half, I just couldn’t keep walking. I stopped, without even thinking about it, and wished her luck. She looked at me, and I had the feeling that for the first time, she connected with what she had done and to whom, a person who genuinely cared about her. She began to cry, and said she was sorry, and I found myself consoling her, and assuring her that she would be okay in future. It was a very strange, but deeply moving moment. I then said goodbye to her, and wished her luck, and left. And hopefully my family and I will heal now from the damage that she did us, and the betrayal.
It was a very emotional and upsetting time for me, so please forgive me for not writing to you sooner. And in between all that, I was working on a book. Some of you read about it in the press, and very kindly offered to apply for the job, in accounting. We filled the position shortly after she left, with another employee in-house. So there is no position open. And admittedly, it is hard to trust anyone after an experience like that one. I’m not bitter about it, but I am still shocked by what happened, deeply, deeply shocked, and saddened.
So, sometimes real life intervenes, and now I am back to normal life again. Writing, busy, seeing my kids. I am always grateful for their enormous support in my life. They flew in from all over the country to be at the sentencing with me, even though it was challenging for them to do so, with their own work lives to pursue. They are terrific kids!!! And my employees were wonderfully supportive too. There are good people in the world!!! And once again, I am reminded of the quote I love from Anne Frank, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are truly good at heart.” That quote has always inspired me, particularly given what she went through.
Two days after the sentencing, I left San Francisco, and came back to Paris, and what a relief!!! What a joy to be here. There is nothing more beautiful or wonderful than April in Paris, although real life happens here too of course. The weather was gorgeous, I was happy to see my friends. I was happy to start a new chapter, not only in my book, but in my life. It has done me a world of good to be here. One of my children is coming to visit. I tidied up my closets. For some odd reason, whenever I have some kind of life-shattering experience, I always seem to clean house and clean out closets, getting rid of old things and putting order in my life. Maybe I do it, because you can ‘control’ a closet, but there are events in one’s life that one just can’t control. So my closets are neat, the weather is gorgeous, the city is as beautiful as ever, and I’m happy to be here, and life is good.
As I write to you today, it is a sad day, one which my family and I face every year. It is my late son Nick’s birthday today on May lst. It’s a special day in France, May Day, a holiday (it is actually French Labor Day). On May Day, French people give each other a little sprig of lily of the valley. It is my favorite flower, has such a delicious smell, and it always reminds me of my son now. He would be 32 today, and died at l9. It feels as though he was here yesterday, and we still miss him terribly. But we have l9 happy birthdays to remember on this day, while he was with us. It is a bittersweet day, while we miss him. I will have dinner with friends and family tonight, as I do every year on this day. And the smell of lily of the valley is heavy in the air. I’m happy to be in Paris.
So it has been a bit of a bumpy time since I last wrote to you. It happens to us all. Things happen. Life is not always easy, but there are good and happy surprises in life, as well as bad or sad ones. That’s what I write about in the books, the things that happen to us, that we don’t expect, and what we make of them when those things happen. No one is exempt from bumps in their life. No matter how successful you are, or how much you ‘have’, or how important people seem, or think they are, the same things happen to all of us. We lose people we love, in one form or another, relationships end, people betray or disappoint us. But in the other side of the scale is hope and joy, love, family, support, good friends, happy moments. It’s good to remember those things when hard things happen. Because just as fast as things can get tough, they can get happy again just as fast. Let’s hope this is a happy spring for all of us….it has been a long, hard winter…..and now it is spring. Happy May Day to all of you!!! I hope you, and we all, have a fabulous spring!!! The season of rebirth and renewal, when life begins again!!!