Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

12/17/18, Twas 8 days before Christmas, and all through the house…..

Posted on December 17, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that things are going well for you. The demonstrations and riots are continuing in Paris, but are thinning out, and were less violent this past Saturday. The government made some concessions, and I think people are just worn out from the strain of weekly violence, and so much destruction. Businesses are sufferring, and thus the economy, and all merchants, with shops and restaurants closed every weekend for the past five weeks, so close to Christmas. And hotels are empty. People don’t want to come to Paris with so much unrest in the country. I hope the New Year brings some peace to all!!

 

Other than that, my new book is out, Beauchamp Hall. I hope you’ve had time to read it, or will over the holidays, and I hope you gave it as a gift to someone. And my paperback, Accidental Heroes, is doing really well, and is an exciting read.

 

It’s been a checkered week with some good and bad things thrown in. A friend came to visit and stayed with me for a week, which was fun (except for the lockdown weekends due to the demonstrations and riots). But other than that, we had a good time. A close best friend lost his adorable little dog, hit by a car, which was heart breaking and we all felt terrible for him. And on the happy side, I had my Christmas party, with 28 good friends. People stay much later than they do in the states, so they stayed till about 1:30 am, on a school night, which was really fun. I gave a Christmas ladies’ lunch too, and had some women friends for a pasta dinner in my kitchen. So I saw a lot of friends this past week, which is fun in this season. And I’ll be seeing my children soon, which is the best part of the holidays for me.

 

I’m still trying to catch up on work, and I’ll be back at work, deep in new books when the holidays are over. I can’t believe Christmas is only 8 days away. I’m still scrambling for the last few special presents.

 

I hope these are happy days for you, that you are finding something to celebrate, and the time and opportunity to spend time with family or friends. The one thing I realize every year is how fast time flies, and how fleeting the precious moments are, they fly through our fingers like angels and bless us as they rush past. My hope for you is that you are enjoying special times with people you love, and who love you. I hope that the days leading up to the holidays will be happy ones for you, and that the holiday will be a memory you cherish. Thank you for the blessings you share with me all year round, reading my books, and enjoying my work.

 

Thank you, and much love to you, Danielle

11/26/18, Beauchamp Hall

Posted on November 26, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, warmly spent with family and friends, or maybe you spent it helping others, which is a wonderful way to spend it too. In San Francisco, the air and the skies finally cleared of smoke, as though for a special blessing on Thanksgiving Day, and the air quality finally returned to normal, after weeks of dangerously toxic air. I was very grateful to spend it with 5 of my children, extended family, and a few friends, for a peaceful, loving family holiday. I ate way too much, as I do every year, but the meal was delicious and hard to resist!!! Now onwards to the Christmas holidays, the next few weeks will speed by, as they always do, and I haven’t finished my holiday shopping yet!!!

 

I’m excited that my new book just came out in hardcover last week, “Beauchamp Hall”. I always try to pick a somewhat inspiring book to come out for the holidays. One that gives us hope for our own lives, and entertains at the same time (and will make a good gift for those who give my books as gifts).  The heroine of the story is a young woman (in her 30’s) whose life has taken several sharp turns in unwanted directions—until all her dreams are far behind her, out of reach now and long forgotten. Her early dreams were to become a book editor in New York. She lives in a small town in the Mid-West which she hoped to escape after college. And her early college years were promising. Her mother had given her her love of books, and shared the magic of reading with her. When she leaves for college, she has a married sister, who married young. Halfway through college, the heroine’s mother gets very sick, and she leaves college to take care of her—-intending to go back to college one day to pursue her dreams. Her mother is sick for several years, and by the time she passes on, it seems too late for the heroine to return to college. Her married sister is busy with her own life, so the heroine gets stuck with all the nursing duties, and gave up years of her life for her mother. She slips into a boring job she hates, with a very nasty boss. And out of loyalty and habit, and stuck in a rut, she sticks with the job she hates, which becomes a dead end for her. She has a boyfriend who treats her badly, and she deserves better. The only bright spot in her life is a good friend who works in the same place, and they are best friends. At Christmas, they play a game at the office called “The White Elephant Game”, which we play in my office, and in my family at the holidays. Everyone brings a gift anonymously, and takes turns picking a gift, ‘stealing’ the gifts from each other. She wins the DVD’s of a popular TV series she had never seen before (and isn’t too excited with the gift!!). And at Christmas her life goes off the rails, the job she hates becomes even worse, her best friend betrays her, her boyfriend, who has always taken her for granted, gets worse too. The sister who has never helped her criticizes her constantly. Her life unravels at a rapid pace, and the only consolation in her life are the DVDs she won of the TV series, which inspire her to change her life radically. She does what we all sometimes dream of doing—–changing everything in our lives, or even changing something. When everything in her dull routine life falls apart, she takes bold steps, and bravely sets out on an entirely new course. The book is about what happens to her then. Her bravery is rewarded with some terrific adventures, fun times, new places, and good people. And her life is as different as it could possibly be from the dreary existence she had before. The book is about having the courage to change things, to do something new and different, and throw open the doors and windows wide to new experiences——and the wonderful places it leads her. She has new dreams far better than anything she could have dreamed of before. And her courage is richly rewarded. I really hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you lots of smiles and new hope. Sometimes we just have to turn the dial a little for everything to change. I hope you have a lot of fun with the book!!!

 

Have a terrific week, and I hope that wonderful new things happen to you!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

11/19/18, Apocalypse

Posted on November 19, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you are well, happy and SAFE!!! And getting ready for a lovely Thanksgiving.

 

I’ve had a crazy week. I’ve been writing pretty much day and night for the last 6 weeks, working on new books. Locked up in my office, and working even harder than usual so that I can take a few days off and enjoy the holiday with my children.

 

And sadly, the terrible fires in California have been a huge concern, and a distraction, and source of great anxiety to us all. So many lives and houses lost, so much loss, in both Northern and Southern California. Particularly awful since the North end of the state was already so devastated only (exactly) a year ago, in Napa and Sonoma counties. Whole towns were razed to the ground. I have several friends who lost their homes last year. And now, here we are again, in both Northern AND Southern California. I’m sure you’ve seen it on the news. Horrifying pictures of entire areas in flames, houses collapsing, the fires raging uncontained. Last year, the smoke reached dangerously unhealthy levels, and traveled more than a hundred miles, at times planes couldn’t fly, ash fell on San Francisco like snow, 80 miles from the fire. This year, with the fires raging more than 100 miles from the city, the smoke has reached new, unimaginable levels of toxicity. The city has watched the air quality numbers rise to staggering heights. The numbers sailed through the dangerous ‘red’ zone, to purple, which is EXTREMELY dangerous, schools are closed, many offices, people in the city are being told to stay indoors, do not open windows, do not walk their dogs, the cable cars have been shut down as it would be too unhealthy for passengers to be in the open air, the ferries have stopped, everyone is told that they must wear masks if they go outdoors even for minutes. The masks suitable for the ‘purple’ level of emergency have a rubber seal and make it nearly impossible to breathe, but are essential for one’s safety with the highly toxic air. The bay has vanished beneath a lethal looking cloud of smoke, you can’t see anything beyond your house, the sky is black at all hours of the day, an eerie dim light shines looking like a midwinter evening at mid-day. It is frightening, and worrisome, people feel cooped up in their homes, and everyone is anxious about the fires, and worried now that this will not be a once in a lifetime catastrophic occurrence, but an annual event. Meanwhile, the fires rage on, and the fog continues to envelop both ends of the state. Yesterday, San Francisco was declared the #1 city in the WORLD with the most dangerous air: more so than Beijing, Bangladesh, all of the industrial cities in Mainland China, and cities in India and Taiwan. It looks and feels like the end of the world, like a science fiction movie, with everyone running around with masks, and the streets fairly empty as people try not to go out. How long will it last? No one knows. An ‘inversion’ has settled over San Francisco, keeping an atmospheric ‘lid’ on the smoke, and trapping it over the city. The hope is for rain sometime later in the week if the wind comes up, and it rains, but for now, nothing is moving as the numbers referring to the danger level of the air quality continue to rise to a shocking degree. Many people feel the effects. It is a truly catastrophic event for anyone in the affected areas, which are extremely large. And hundreds of people continue to be unaccounted for. Droughts every year set the stage for these terrible fires. At this point residents of the affected areas can only pray for relief soon.

 

Many people have tried to get away from it during the past weekend, to areas where the air is slightly healthier, hotel rooms were impossible to find, planes were full. It truly is a shocking natural disaster, and my heart goes out to all of those who have lost homes or loved ones.

 

And in the midst of it all, Thanksgiving will be in a few days. We all have many blessings to be grateful for, and I hope that you will be spending your Thanksgiving with family and/or friends. There are so many blessings I am grateful for, and I hope that the fires will end soon, and the state can begin to heal again.

 

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, and a safe, healthy one, with all my love, Danielle

 

10/29/18, Trick or Treat

Posted on October 29, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week, and that this week will be more treat than trick for you!!! (Treat being lots of dark chocolate or whatever makes you happy!!!)

 

I worked REALLY hard last week, writing 20 hours a day, so I am definitely back up to fall speed and my winter writing schedule. And I finished what I was writing on Friday, so I treated myself to a fun day on Saturday (after Xeroxing everything I’d been writing, since I type it on a typewriter and don’t use a computer). After the Xeroxing, I did some Christmas shopping….and of course a few treats for me!!! I’m having my Godchildren for a Halloween dinner, and they’re still young enough to really enjoy it!!

 

After Christmas shopping on Saturday (I went to a really cool store that is ALL men’s socks in a million different rainbow colors—–great stocking stuffers for the men on my list!!)—after that, I did something I never do. I NEVER go to restaurants alone, I’m not a big eater, wouldn’t enjoy being in a restaurant alone, it always looks weird to me when I see women alone in a restaurant, or people alone generally, and it’s no fun without someone to talk to. If I’m out doing errands, I just plow through until I get home, and I always have a bar of dark chocolate in my handbag if I get hungry, and it doesn’t hurt to skip a meal. I’d rather do that than go to a restaurant alone. And I’ve only done that once in my life. But Saturday, I decided to spoil myself a little after a week of hard work, and spotty meals. I tend to eat food that’s easy to eat and I don’t have to pay attention to when I’m working. Like hard boiled or scrambled eggs, the occasional sandwich, and waaayyyyy too many cookies!!! But Saturday I stopped for a late lunch, I had truffle risotto and calf’s liver (I love liver—-I know, no one else does). It was yummy, I was on an outdoor terrace, having a ball watching the people go by, sitting in the sun, feeling lazy and spoiled and enjoying it thoroughly. It was a fun restaurant I go to a lot, so they know me, and the kind of place where families and couples go, and all kinds of people so I didn’t stand out alone. And the people watching is superb there. Lots of foreigners, on my right were two Chinese women who looked like they were having a good time. They took photos of each other with their phones. to my left were two young Americans, maybe about 18 or 19, a boy and a girl, talking about college and exams, and how awful their parents are (I tried not to laugh at that. The boy said he had to take a trip with his father and said “Erghk!! How Sinister is That!!”) And beyond them was a beautiful Russian woman with what seemed to be her boyfriend. Lots of people came and went in some wild outfits. It’s a restaurant where a lot of people go in the fashion business, and some models, actors and actresses sometimes, and people who want to see and be seen. There was a Chinese actress posing for photographs in front of me, and some crazy outfits: one couple had on matching suits with Bermuda shorts, and she was wearing Mickey Mouse ears. It was a fun interlude for an hour, and at least I had a decent meal after a week of eating snacks nonstop.  I did some more errands after that, and went home and listened to some music and answered some emails.

 

I still haven’t figured out a Halloween costume, I have a pink sweatshirt with Miss Piggy on it, and may settle for that this year. I hope you have a GREAT HALLOWEEN!!! Whether in costume or not, and I hope you get lots of treats!!!

 

I learned something VERY unusual this week by the way—At least I think it is, a social event popular with the Millennial generation (late 20’s to early 30’s) Apparently the big trend is for “Gender Reveal” Parties. Clearly, I’m from the Dark Ages because I’d never heard of it before, although all my children knew about it when I checked. It sounded extremely sexy, but apparently isn’t. Here’s how it works if you don’t know about it either. When a Millennial is having a baby, instead of having the doctor tell her and her partner or spouse the sex of the baby, the doctor writes the baby’s sex down on a piece of paper, seals the paper in an envelope and the future Mom takes it to a party planner and a baker, and they throw a party, which will either have a pink or a blue theme, they invite all their friends, and when they go to the party, they discover the sex of their baby, along with all their friends, from the pink or blue balloons. I have to admit, I was stunned, I can’t imagine wanting to share that discovery with 50 or 100 friends or even two. In my generation, it was a very private moment to share with my husband and not discover at a party. But apparently, Gender Reveal Parties are a big deal now. You learn something new every day!!!

 

 

Trick or Treat!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

10/8/18, Let your light shine!!!

Posted on October 8, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, a productive one, some fun times, and accomplished whatever you wanted to. The fall is here, and it’s a great time to rev up our engines, start new projects, finish old ones, —-even as adults, many of us still have a ‘school year’ mentality, and the fall feels like the beginning of a new year. I’ve been busy too, and working on new books for you!!!

 

In a serious vein, I’ve lost three friends and a family member recently. It’s a sobering experience and leads one to some introspection about life in general, and the people specifically. Three lived to a great age (2 at 89, and one at 90), and one died very young. And three of them made a strong mark on the broader world. Two in artistic fields, in which they were well known, one high up in federal law enforcement, and one of them was ‘unknown’ except to family and friends. But whether ‘famous’ or not, we all leave a powerful mark on our world. All of them were people I greatly admired, and their passing was publicly mourned. The last of them was an absolutely remarkable woman, an award winning French documentary filmmaker and writer, who had survived five concentration camps as a young girl in her teens, including Auschwitz, and was a dynamo of strength, courage and talent, and right up until her last day she was fascinating to talk to, full of energy, always working on a new book or documentary film. She could outstay anyone at a party, smoked, drank, and lived a full life till the end. Interestingly, only one of them had children, the other 3 did not (the three famous ones didn’t, an interesting statistic), all had major careers, and all four lived their lives as shining examples to the rest of us. Three of them were in great form and productive until their last day. They were inspiring to know, and I feel blessed and honored to have known them.

 

In doing some reading to come to terms with these losses, I came across a Bible quote from Matthew which I have always loved. “Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works…..”. All four of the people I mentioned were brilliant examples of that. And in a world filled with social media, and rapidly reported news, we are constantly, daily, hourly assaulted with shocking news and bad events. It’s not so easy to shine in a world filled with the distracting smoke of bad behaviour, and bad news. And yet, these people did. Every day, we have a choice about what we see and what we do, what our standards and values are, and how we treat our fellow man. Do we focus on the bad events? Do we sacrifice our own values, and take the easy road, or the high road? Do we make excuses when we fall short, or keep going on our own road toward higher goals, and lend a helping hand to others on the way? Years ago, when I started writing books in my late teens, my good friend and mentor as a young writer was Alex Haley, the writer of Roots. Famous, successful, he always had time to help others, was always encouraging to young people, and I don’t think I have ever known a nicer, kinder, more extraordinary human being. I marveled at his kindness. (His personal motto was “Find the good and praise it”—-not so easily done in today’s world)

 

In the scheme of life, being famous doesn’t really mean much, except that it helps you to reach out to more people, and it can be exciting to see your name on a list of some kind, or the cover of a magazine. But what really matters is what we Do. When all is said and done, I think who we are is determined by what we have done, how much good we have done during our time here on earth. That’s not always an easy goal, the low road is so much easier. But the people we stand back and admire at the end of their lives are invariably kind, and have lived a lifetime of small gestures to others that make a difference. It can happen in a moment, in a smile, in a gesture to a friend, or a stranger, an act of kindness that makes a difference to just one person. We all fall short at times, and wish we had done better, given more, tried harder, or been more patient. We don’t always realize what a difference we make to someone else. We don’t have to be internationally known or enormously talented to do good works. We each have the chance to let our light shine every day in the smallest of ways. It’s a nice thing to remember when we are tempted to be short with someone, growl instead of smile, and don’t reach out a hand to someone else.

 

I liked finding the reminder of that Bible quote, it’s a wake up call, to let our light shine so brightly that it lights up the darkness that surrounds us at times in the world.

 

The people I knew whose lives ended in the past few weeks were all shining examples of that…..their light shone so brightly, their good works to others (not just their talent) will be long remembered, and blessed everyone on their path.

 

There is another quote that I love too, by Robert Louis Stevenson, “It is the history of our kindness that alone makes this world tolerable.” And what I remember most about the three lost friends and one family member is not how famous they were, or how much they accomplished, but how kind they were. Maybe in the end, it is the only mark worth leaving on the world.

 

Have a happy week, and Let your light shine, even in the smallest of ways…..and I will try to do the same.

 

With much love,  Danielle

 

 

10/1/18, The Rose and the Thorns

Posted on October 1, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve had a long crazy one, travelling again, and my travel day this time consisted of TWO, not one but TWO cancelled flights, and 7 hours in the airport between them (with my 3 dogs), only to go nowhere and go back home that night, unable to get a seat out for another 2 days. It’s fairly typical travel hell nowadays, but it sure isn’t fun when it’s happening. And I think cancelled and delayed flights happen a lot now. In the end it took me 4 days to get home, instead of one. It’s all part of the complicated landscape of travelling now, and challenging at best. I was exhausted by the time I got home.

 

Two hours after I got home, I celebrated my daughter’s birthday with her, and some friends. It was a really fun evening, and her birthday was the reason I came home. I would have swum home if I had to, not to disappoint her.

 

And the next day, I had some sad, bad news. A friend had gotten sick a few weeks ago, seemed to be coming out of it and recovering, and this morning at barely 60, he had cardiac arrest and died. I was stunned when I got the call. It just didn’t seem reasonable or possible. We had spoken only a few days ago, and emailed regularly. He was a wise, intelligent, extremely kind person who had been very helpful to me, always willing and quick to go the extra mile to help. He was a truly lovely man, with strong protective instincts. I always felt safe when in his presence, as though nothing could harm me when he was around, which is a rare feeling. I met him many years ago, and our paths crossed again earlier this year. The friendship picked up then for the past several months. I saw him twice this summer, and as usual, he was wonderful to me. We exchanged some emails, just chatting, and three weeks ago, I learned through one of my children, he was ill in the hospital, and wanted to hear from me. So I sent him an email, and we began talking. He was suffering from the illness he had, but he was determined to beat it. And he assured me only days ago that he would. While he was ill for the past few weeks, our correspondence became voluminous and intense, as I tried to encourage him, and hoped he would get well soon. I sent him some prayer cards, and some religious things, including a medal from a convent near my childhood home in Paris, and some books. And our email exchanges were fun too. I was always happy to hear from him, and he was grateful for the support. The thought that he might not get well seemed remote and unlikely, and he said that he was confident that he would. We spoke a few days ago, and he was “confident that he was getting better”. And then one morning a few days ago, that terrible call, that he had died suddenly, and was gone. It left an instant void, and an overwhelming feeling of sadness, and I was stunned all day after hearing about it.

 

The concept of birth and death has always been a mystery to me. It always struck me when I was having a baby. One moment you are X number of people in the delivery room, and minutes later, there is one more person in the room. How did they get here? It is utterly remarkable to me that a person can be added or subtracted at a moment’s notice. And similarly, death makes no sense to me at all. People you love and care about and know, see regularly or once in a while, and suddenly that person no longer exists. Game over. The person you loved or knew is nowhere to be found on this planet, you can’t talk to them or see them, and never will again. Vanished. Gone. Whatever they were doing before, and in all the places where you used to see them, they are no longer there, and you will never hear their voice or see their face again. It seems incredibly cruel, especially with our loved ones. Now you see me, now you don’t. And we are left with the memories of time shared with them.

 

I’ve often said that some books are shorter than others, and it applies to people too. Some lives are shorter, and they are not meant to go the whole long distance. But for those of us left with our memories, and not with the person we loved, it’s hard to understand why this happened, and what it means to us.  I will miss talking to my friend, and reading emails from him, the exchange of laughter, the comfort and the reassurance of his emails. Why destiny chose to make our paths cross again this summer for these few months, I don’t know. And I know even less how such a lovely person, anxious to help anyone he could, should die so young. I’m grateful to have known him, I will cherish the memories of who he was and what he shared, and the example he set for kindness in this world. He always went the extra mile for anyone.  I will miss his smiling face, and so much about him.  He said to me the last time we spoke, that he preferred to focus on the roses in life than the thorns. He was certainly a rose in many lives, and I will long remember and cherish his friendship.

 

Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Paris | 7 Comments

9/24/18, The Wild West

Posted on September 24, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a great week since the last blog.

I’ve had some startling news about my home in San Francisco. It’s in a quiet residential neighbourhood, across from a park. Children play in the park, and there is a dog park for the neighbourhood dogs. And it’s a pretty peaceful place.

 

After several years of drought, and two years of ferocious severe fires, mostly to the North of the city, in Sonoma and Napa counties, the wildlife in those counties are being driven out, looking for food and water. Deer show up in unexpected places, and I was just made aware of a most unsettling situation. Coyotes have been seen all over the city, in parks and on city streets, and have now made their home in the park across the street from my house. People who work for me have seen them, neighbours have warned me, photos have turned up on Facebook of two of the coyotes walking past my house, and they were seen yesterday, standing in front of my home, watching people come to work in my office, one of whom comes with her dog. A few months ago, a friend of one of my sons was surrounded by coyotes in the Presidio (a big park that used to be an Army base, and is now where children play, people picnic, jog, and play baseball there. The coyotes were ready to attack her, until someone heard them, and her screams, and chased them away.) I have very old frail dogs at my home in San Francisco, who are living out their final years peacefully, and I am frightened for them and the people in my home, with coyotes “casing” my house, and living across the street. (We have no idea how many there are, if they are part of a pack, or are protecting their young, which would make them more aggressive).  With really bad luck, they could attack a person coming in or out of the house, or a dog being walked on a leash.

 

We called local animal control to ask for their help, and they said that there are so many coyotes in the city now (people I know have seen them in neighbourhoods all around the city), that they do not try to remove them, or move them somewhere else back to a more natural habitat, and they don’t come to help when coyotes show up on your doorstep, as they have on mine now. It certainly makes San Francisco a dangerous city, with animals who pose a real threat (to people and domestic animals), running free around the city. They suggested that we keep our dogs indoors and be vigilant. And that’s it.

 

Sadly, one of my closest friends lost a beloved dog to coyotes earlier this summer, in broad daylight in the morning, in another part of the country. Other friends have lost their pets to them in the country near San Francisco. And we have them around our home in the Napa Valley, and keep a close eye on our dogs there. I heard them there this summer, howling terrifyingly close by, seemingly moving in for the kill of some animal. Similarly, friends who have homes in Lake Tahoe, in the mountains, have a problem with bears hanging around their homes, and two have had bears break into their houses (and empty the fridge), and sleep in their beds.

 

We aren’t dealing with bears in the city of San Francisco yet. But the proliferation of coyotes in the city is a frightening prospect. It’s a sad situation for wildlife animals seeking food and water, but it can be a tragic one with potentially dangerous animals running unchecked in the city with children and small dogs and even adults at risk to be attacked by animals that present a real danger to small dogs and humans. Apparently, they’ve taken several cats in my neighbourhood.

 

It certainly is the Wild West, and very scary!!!

 

Stay safe, and have a great week, full of happy moments, good times, and good surprises!!! (not scary ones!!)

 

love, Danielle

 

9/17/18, Hard Day, Hard Week

Posted on September 17, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, even a great week, as the Fall gets off to a busy start. For those of you with children, they’re all back in school by now, which keeps parents busier than ever, until the new routine is established, and things settle down. And with after school activities, and sports teams, kids keep us running. Mine are all working now, and I miss those school days (which will sound crazy to you if you’re dashing all over the place with your kids, and wish they’d hurry up and grow up. Beware of what you wish for!!! They grow up all too soon!!). I still have one child living at home, and am grateful that I do!!! Every time she leaves her laundry stacked up in the front hall, or borrows something and forgets to return it, or loses something, or scrambles my schedule, or uses enough towels to stock a hotel, I remind myself of how lucky I am to still have her at home!! Any time I spend with her is precious.

 

I had a busy, mostly fun week last week, doing errands, catching up, seeing friends for lunch and dinner. I love having friends in for dinner after the summer, to catch up with how everyone’s summer was. I worked, and finished an outline I love, for a future book, and can’t wait to get to work on it. And I’ll see a few friends this week too, and visit two of my daughters, and see 2 more of my kids by the end of the week. Seeing my children will be the best part of the week. And I have a bunch of real life stuff to do too. A visit from the plumber to solve a (lack of) hot water problem, a trip to the vet to check the dog who was sick this summer (Blue, with a disk problem), put away summer clothes, call to complain about the kitchen chairs I ordered 5 months ago and haven’t received yet. Ordinary real life housewifely stuff, which I enjoy. I got a new TV for my bedroom, after 14 years, which is fun. I like the rhythm and routine of ordinary life, I find it comforting and relaxing to get small things done. Last week had its serious moments too, I went to the memorial service for a dear friend, and unfortunately will go the memorial service of a beloved brother in law this week. The friend was 91, a famous fashion designer (Hubert de Givenchy, an extraordinary really lovely man). My brother in law was in his late 80s, and like a real big brother to me since I was 16. Both men led good, full, long productive lives. I will miss them both, but it is in the order of things for people to leave, and both lived well lived complete lives to a great age, which makes their leaving easier to accept.

 

But all in all, I know this will be a hard week for me. However well I fill the time, whatever I do, there is a date that I cannot escape every year, the anniversary of my son Nick’s death, by suicide at 19. He was greatly, great loved, and still is, and I miss him always. Talented (in writing and music), brilliant, funny, loving, compassionate, he was a wonderful boy, suffered from bi polar disease all his life (I first noticed it before he was 2, and knew it for sure by the time he was 4 years old). We did everything we could to help him, but he finally just couldn’t live with the pain anymore. He led a remarkably full life in his short time, he already had a successful career in music (writing lyrics and music, and lead singer in a successful band). And even after his death, his life has been a blessing to many people. We established two foundations in his honor, to help mentally ill people, and the homeless. Thousands of people have been helped in his name. There is a blessing in even the hardest events in our lives.

 

Anniversary dates are always something of a mystery to me. The person we loved, and still love, is just as gone the day or the week or month before and after the anniversary. But there is a power to the anniversary date that is like the sound of a gong that reverberates through you, shattering the silence and any sense of peace. It’s as though your body knows what day it is as well as your heart. Life stops for me on that day, as I try to remember him without remembering how terrible that day was. Birthdays are easier because there are happy memories of that day. There are no happy memories of the day someone you love dies, and it pierces your heart like a spear. The memory of that stops you in your tracks. I try to keep it as gentle as possible, but there is no easy way. This will be the first year that I won’t be with some of my children on that date, but I will see them the next day. There is something particularly terrible about losing a child, at any age, because it is not in the correct order of life, and a child is part of you from the moment they are born until you die, and they take with them a part of you that belonged to them.   So it will be a hard day. It always is. Some years are harder than others, and some years are a little better, and gentler. You never really escape it, but some years whatever you do to soothe the pain seems to work, distraction, seeing friends, whatever you do, and you get through it. Other years you barely crawl through it. The pain begins to dim the next day and gets back to something you can live with, but you hit a wall on those days, time stops, and you are catapulted into the past to a day you wish had never happened. In a way, the agony of that day doesn’t make sense, because they are just as gone before and after the day, and you learn to live with it…..but the actual anniversary date is particularly tough. I dread it, but one gets through it. It comes at you like a heat seeking missile, headed straight for your heart.

 

He was an incredibly sweet boy with a huge heart. Forever missed, forever loved, for the rest of time.

 

Have a great week!!! I hope it is a gentle week for you, with lots of happy moments in it.

 

all my love, Danielle

 

9/3/18, “In His Father’s Footsteps”

Posted on September 3, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Happy Labor Day!! I hope you’re enjoying the long weekend, and can catch a last few days of vacation before life gets serious again, and the summer is officially over!!! I’m happy to be spending it with three of my daughters.

 

To get the Fall off to a good start, I have a new book coming out tomorrow, “In His Father’s Footsteps”, about three generations of a family. The book begins with the liberation of one of the concentration camps in World War II, the first camp liberated by the Americans, and among the survivors are a young man and young woman who met while in the camp, Jakob and Emmanuelle. Both managed to survive, and had lost their entire families. In the days after the camp is liberated, they try to figure out where to go next, having lost everything during the war (he is Austrian, she is French. He was from a wealthy family in Vienna, who lost everything, she is the daughter of a seamstress in Paris), their friendship blossoms into love, as they help each other get their bearings and regain their health after their shocking experiences. With the help of an American refugee organization, they marry and immigrate to New York, where they are sponsored by a man who owns a garment factory, where they are given jobs, and a tiny apartment on the Lower East side. They arrive in New York with nothing, and work hard. They are ultimately exploited by their sponsor, struggle to survive, get better jobs, and are determined to make a good life for themselves in America, and they have a son, born in New York. With some good breaks, and the fruit of their labor, they meet a kind man who gives Jakob a good job as a runner in the wholesale diamond market. With time, hard work, integrity, and diligence, Jakob carves out a solid career, eventually owns a business, and provides a good life for his wife and son Max. They are cautious, sensible, persevering people, deeply affected by their wartime experiences and all that they lost, and serious about the solid, successful life they have built since. Max grows up in more fortunate circumstances, thanks to his father’s hard work, and he in turn is affected by his parents’ view of life, and he wants a very different, all American life, and to take advantage of the opportunities and education he has been fortunate to have. A Harvard graduate, he builds a successful business of his own, and leads a fast track life, very different from his parents’ lives, who are cautious and always concerned that another war could sweep everything away again. A visit to the camp his parents survived, and where they met, gives him new respect for his parents, and better understanding of what they’ve been through and how far they have come. Max’s own life choices in turn affect his own children, who want to make choices very different from his, and have yet another perspective than their father’s and their grandparents’ view of life. It’s about family ties, about how each generation differs from the last, but with a common theme of hard work, integrity, and the importance of family, as they strive to leave their own mark on the world, each in a different way than the generation that came before them. It’s about how we evolve, and what we learn from our parents and grandparents, and how we come to understand them as we mature, no matter how different we are.   I hope you enjoy the book, and each generation in it as the story unfolds.  I’m excited about the book and hope you will be too. I always love the poignancy and compassion of family sagas, as we watch a family build and grow, as each generation tries to improve on what was achieved by those who came before them.

 

I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day, and that you have some wonderful memories of the summer to carry you forward into the fall. Have a great week!!!

love, Danielle

 

8/20/18, Bea, an Amazing girl!!!!

Posted on August 20, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, here we are, the last week in August, Labor Day is just around the corner, and we have ‘done’ the summer. It has whizzed past us, I hope you had lots of fun, some time off and vacation, and I hope you’ll look back on this summer with a smile. And now we have all the excitement of the fall to look forward to, and our winter plans and projects, in some cases moving at high speed after the summer. I am definitely back at work, and working on new books.

 

I wanted to bring you up to date on something I have mentioned to you before, that happened in my family two years ago. My nephew’s daughter Bea, my great niece, was 17 years old then, a beautiful, happy normal high school girl. She grew up in France, her father is French, her mother American, and they had just moved to Brussels, Belgium from Paris a few months before. Her passion was, and is horseback riding, her dream was to ride in the Olympics. And her great love was, and is, her beloved white horse Deedee. She has two older brothers, lots of friends, and lots of dogs. A very normal high school girl. And in March of 2016, her whole world changed. The family went to Florida for Spring vacation, she stayed back a day, and set out to join them in Florida a day later. She went to the Brussels airport for her flight, and Fate intervened in a very major way. It was the morning that terrorists blew up the Brussels Airport, right as Bea was in line to check in. We know now that she was standing roughly 3 or 4 feet from one of the bombs when it exploded, and was one of very few survivors in the terminal. It is a total miracle that she survived at all. Seven months in the hospital of fighting for her life, dozens of surgeries ensued. Hundreds of people were killed and injured. She was in a military hospital along with the other survivors, because the wounds inflicted were so extreme that they were only comparable to wartime military injuries, not civilian ones. She was burned over much of her body, was paralyzed in the days and months after the explosion, her body was full of shrapnel, pieces of metal in the bomb designed to do the most damage possible to a human body, and she lost both legs. It’s the kind of horrifying event you read about in a newspaper, but doesn’t happen to anyone you know. But it did, to this very wonderful 17 year old girl. And the future looked dark indeed for a while.

 

We don’t have any idea how any of us would respond to catastrophic events in our lives. Something like that is beyond imagining. She was in a medically induced coma for a while, to alleviate her suffering. And what not only survived but flourished and grew to incredible proportions was her extraordinary spirit, her strength and determination, not only to survive, but to have an amazing life in future anyway. She has a family who adores her, and a remarkable mother who exhibited strength and courage that kept Bea fighting for her life at the darkest times—and fighting for the quality of her life.

 

One of the most touching moments in her early recovery was when she was finally well enough to sit in a wheel chair and be rolled outside for some air. Her horse trainer had arranged with Bea’s mother and the hospital to bring Bea’s beloved horse Deedee to visit her. The video of it reduced me to sobs, and still does. Bea was sitting in her wheel chair, not expecting a visit, as Deedee was led out of the trailer, was instantly alert, and literally raced across the parking lot to where Bea was sitting, found her, licked her face adoringly, and then rested her head on Bea’s shoulder. It was pure love between those two. It was a turning point for Bea in her recovery. A day or two later, she was cautiously lifted into the saddle on Deedee, and held there so she wouldn’t lose her balance and fall, and thus began the next chapters of Bea’s life, with courage, love and hope, and a fierce determination not to be beaten or destroyed by what had happened.

 

Fast forward the long arduous film of what came after: 7 months after the attack she left the hospital, and went back to school for her last year—-she was greeted at school by a standing ovation by the entire school. People around the world, who didn’t even know her, had been praying for her. In June, 15 months after the attack, she graduated, and walked across the stage in braces to accept her diploma. She went to rehab at a Naval Facility in San Diego and is still there. Next month, she will start college. And for many months now, she has been training for the next Paralympics in Tokyo. Three countries invited her to ride for them. They first contacted her after someone had seen the first meeting with Deedee at the hospital. She is hard at work now training for the Paralympics, and getting ready for college. Her determination, and extraordinary spirit are astounding—-how can any of us complain about the problems and disappointments and minor inconveniences in our lives when you see someone like her, determined, strong, never lagging, never giving up, absolutely passionately determined to have an amazing life, and not be robbed of her youth and spirit and courage about life. After college, she wants to start a company for sports equipment adapted for people with physical impairments. She has feeling in her legs and back now, and her hope is to continue to improve. She has worked incredibly hard in the most grueling way at her recovery, and is continuing to do so.

 

Bea is a remarkable girl. Extraordinary, remarkable, incredible, courageous, amazing, don’t even begin to describe her. And her remarkable mother has fought alongside her every inch of the way. Her whole family cheers her on. I am stunned by her courage and spirit. It’s breathtaking.

 

What she has done and is continuing to do is an inspiration to anyone who knows her or hears about her. She didn’t quit, she didn’t give up, she didn’t complain about her losses, she held on tight and celebrated what she did have, and reached out toward all the good things and good times and victories that lay ahead. Her whole life is a victory, a shining example to others, an inspiration to us all. She is the best of what a human being can be faced with incredible challenges, and she has met them all.

 

I am in awe of this brave nineteen year old girl who has faced the unthinkable and is turning it into a victory every single day. And this is only the beginning of what I know will be a shining life that will continue to dazzle and inspire us all.

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

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