Please read “About this project and the Author” for more information on my project. In this excerpt taken from my story, Daryl thinks about what Danielle, his case worker, meant to him as a child and still means today.
“…I will see Danielle again. I will see her one last time.
When we return, the conclusion to tonight’s story.”
The years that separate Danielle and I have severely faded the image I have of her in my mind but luckily, it has left untouched the way she made me feel and that is what resurfaces first when I think of her. When the mood calls for it, as it very much does right now, one deep breath with my eyes closed is all I need to recall how good it felt to be with her when I needed it the most and at the same time benefit from the remnants of appeasement she has kindly left for me not too far behind my memories of her. For that, I am greatly indebted to her and I welcome the good she still brings to my life as the gift it truly is.
It does matters more and more however that I never had a real picture of Danielle. Holding an image of her would add a tangible feel to the emotions she awakens when I think of her. Obviously, during the period I was lucky enough to have her as my case worker, the adults around me had to have their priorities straight and taking pictures, which was a lot more work back then compared to today, was probably not very high on their list.
Had I known then I would one day come to crave pictures of certain people from my youth, I would have insisted someone freeze a few moments in time. What I wouldn’t give today to have a picture of Danielle with her arm around my shoulders. I would guard with my life an image of Allan and I together at summer camp or one of Andrée with two ee’s smiling at me. The only picture I own of that period which is also the only one of me before the age of ten, is a picture of myself sitting in the mess hall at Ville Joie. I have no idea what I looked like when I was a baby, what I wore on my first day at school or thank God, if I looked as ridiculous as I felt wearing that ugly clip-on tie that went with that oversized suit of mine.
I feel selfish for focusing on what I wish I had when I carry in me the soothing memory of Danielle’s presence. After all I pressed myself to look back on tonight, remembering how Danielle calmed my fear of the unknown when I was a child is enough to convince me I have the strength to face the other kind of unknown coming my way today. Life is a lot easier when all you have to do is close your eyes, take a deep breath and conjure on a strength that already lives within. I guess that’s what they mean when they say you “have it in yourself” to do something.
It’s a brutal return to reality as I open my eyes to see Jackson in the midst of an animated discussion with Susan in her booth. Judging by the color on his face and also by his very presence here a solid two to three hours earlier than usual, he is aware of what I have been doing all night and he isn’t happy about it but Susan seems to be holding her ground. As much as I would like to, I don’t have enough time during this break to leave my seat and go get into an argument with him. He won’t go any further than Susan’s booth either, he knows better than to enter my studio during my show.
From my seat, I can see Susan showing him the numbers from last night and I don’t have to be a lip reader to understand she is telling him the feedback from the listeners have been great. Susan, being the competent producer that she is, has had the foresight through the entire night of printing a large number of positive Emails, Facebook posts and Tweets written by listeners from all over the world and she abruptly ends the conversation by shoving the entire stack of printouts in his hands. When Jackson turns around and walks out Susan’s booth holding this impressive pile of commendations, she gives me a feisty “I’ve got your back” kind of wink.
Jackson’s face was so red when he left her booth, his head will probably be medium-rare by the time he reaches his office. Or was he simply being choked by the particularly ugly tie he chose to wear for us today. Just this once, I’m going to be mean and allow myself to root for the latter…”
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