April….now May….in Paris

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!!!

Love, Danielle

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10 Comments so far
  1. Lorraine May 3, 2010 6:37 pm

    Dear Danielle,
    I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day as you move on from this really awful time. You seem like such a fair, honest, decent, forgiving woman which is so refreshing in today’s world.
    Your family sounds truly wonderful. Wishing you a good May. Love, Lorraine

  2. Nananbla May 4, 2010 5:02 am

    Chère Danielle,

    je découvre aujourd’hui ce site, avec plaisir …et incrédulité!

    A la recherche de votre nouveau livre pour m’y réfugier, je visite votre site pour plus d’informations et la lucarne sur votre vie privée est non seulement édifiante, réconfortante (?), mais pleine d’espoir au moment où à 36 ans, avec 2 enfants à ma charge exclusive, je suis confrontée à des pressions dans mon travail en même temps que mon fils de 15 mois vient d’être opéré pour la deuxième fois à Paris. Malgré tout, nous avons découvert le moyen de savourer chaque évacuation médicale pour effectuer un pélerinage avant de rentrer chez nous en Côte d’Ivoire : déjà Lourdes (janvier 2010) et Rome (avril 2010)… Quelle bénédiction!

    Ce 1er mai 2010 marque un tournant : la terre ne tremblera pas, mais prendre un nouvel essor pour mieux savourer la vie telle qu’elle est, ici et maintenant…

    Et vous retrouver, ici, ainsi, telle que vous êtes vraiment, en dehors de la lecture de vos ouvrages depuis ces vingt dernières années … est un véritable baume au coeur.

    J’ai lu avec délectation “Candy for the soul” que j’ai aussitôt partagé avec mes soeurs, résidant en Europe pour la plupart pour éviter que la distance et le temps ne finissent lentement mais sûrement à erroder des liens déjà fragilisés depuis l’enfance, aiguisés pendant l’adolescence et à ce stade tellement inexistants …

    Sur ce blog, chaque mot est un partage et je me sens honorée d’être le témoin d’une telle confiance.

    Votre “présence” a bercé ma vie ces dernières années et je souhaite que la vie puisse vous rendre au centuple le bonheur que vous espérez.

    Mes prières vous accompagnent…
    Avec toute mon affection,

  3. Susie Lang May 5, 2010 1:19 pm

    Dear Danielle,
    I hope you will have a wonderful Mother’s Day. I think you are an amazing person with a lot of special qualities. You would be awesome to work for, I think! I am glad this trying time is coming to a close for you. I hope you have a lovely rest of the month.



  4. Cristina May 6, 2010 11:21 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about what happened in your office. But it’s good to see it’s all okay now. These things happen, no matter how much we take care of everything. But now it’s time to think about the present and the future, right? And as I can see, there are wonderful things coming up.
    And this quote from Anne Frank is my favorite!

    Happy Mother’s Day, Danielle!

    Thank you for being such an inspiring person. My mother loves you so much, she talks to me about you all the time.

    Love from Brazil!

  5. Nicole May 7, 2010 4:44 am

    Dear Danielle,

    It is always terrible when someone betrays us, but you show great strengh of character in being able to forgive. I honestly have not been able to do the same, I too had something similar happen and still feel so much anger.You have inspired me to reflect on it, and in retrospect perhaps it could have been worse.

    So glad to hear your working on the new book, and also back in Paris.You always sound so happy when you are there. Anyway keep well, and do have the most wonderful and happy Mother’s Day!

  6. Dane May 7, 2010 9:59 am

    Dear Danielle,

    Just recently I came across your book “His Bright Light.” Myself, like you, lost someone very special to me due to the bi-polar illness. My brother was 24 years old when he committed suicide and was very similar to Nick in a lot ways. They both were extremely talented as well as handsome young guys, but just couldn’t beat this illness. I have to tell you that this book put a lot of things into perspective for me and gave me a sense peace and acceptance. I am very grateful that you were able to tell your story in a way people can understand bi-polar. I want to be able to help with getting the word out about the Nick Traina Foundation. It is my lifelong dream to summit the highest peak in North America, Mt. McKinley. I want to do this in honor of my brother and everyone who has lost a loved one due to bi-polar. What can I do to raise money for this foundation? I really look forward to hearing from. Thanks.


  7. Simone Rael May 7, 2010 2:59 pm

    Some people are never satisfied with what they have and are constantly looking at others with envy and resenting the fact that someone else is a lot more successful than they are and has a lot more money then they do.

    Even though you treated her fairly and she was earning a handsome salary, it obviously wasn’t enough for her. Basically what i’m saying is, she saw that you had so much more and desperately wanted a piece of it. I would be envious of you too, you live a very appealing lifestyle and people often don’t see beyond the surface, they only see the fine homes, clothes, expensive vacations and don’t appreciate that you worked your butt of to get all that!!!

    Jealousy is a very human emotion, that strikes many of us at some point in our lives. It can make people do the most evil things. I myself have been the victim of jealosy for one reason or another, and I know how horrible it is to
    experience unkind acts of others who want to knock you off your perch or take the gloss of you because it makes them feel better. I also have been jealous of others but I would never lower myself to the extent your assistant did. Although I will admit i’m far from a saint and have done some unkind things that I regret.

    I think you were very gracious to wish her well, I know I would never have been so kind. I would have been furious and probably would have had a few nasty words to say to her that I wouldn’t repeat on here.

    I hope you are doing better and I continue to wish you well, can’t wait to read your future books.

    Love Simone x

  8. Sandy May 8, 2010 5:07 pm

    Danielle, I just have a question for you Danielle. I enjoy your books & movies very much. You are a very great writer. I just wanted to know if your book “Matters of the Heart” has been out for awhile now and I was wondering if a paperback of that will be coming out soon. Even though I enjoy your books, the hardcovers are a little pricey for me. Please let me know. I am sorry for sending this to you on this site but did not see how to contact except to get on your blog.
    Thank You,

  9. manuela May 9, 2010 10:43 am

    Querida Danielle:Recibi hace unos dias un correo donde me decia que habia pasado un buen dia de la madre con sus hijos.Tambien yo lo pase con los mios,e igualmente me hicieron varios regalos,entre ellos,algun libro,perfumes,etc,pero sobre todo amor,esa palabra tan especial que solo las que somos madres sabemos como nos inunda nuestro ser……..(He recordado a Nic en su aniversario)Querida amiga,siento los malos momentos que ha tenido que pasar,pero Dios es muy justo,y al final quien la hace la paga.Recupere su optimismo que a traves de sus libros nos hace llegar,disfrute de sus hijos,aunque eso se que lo hace,y me alegro de su estancia en Paris,pues se como ama a esa ciudad,y se la energia positiva que le da.Es como una inyeccion de adrenalina en vena.Un abrazo junto con mi cariño y admiracion.Manuela

  10. Nenj May 9, 2010 7:47 pm

    Dear Danielle,

    I love your books and will soon have your new books in hands.
    Your family sounds truly wonderful and I wish you all the best.