In memory of Danielle
|From In memory of ...|
Today I found out that Danielle died recently from an illness. She was the first NOLA resident I helped through the Weekend Warrior volunteer team, and my heart cries for her loss tonight.
I was very touched by her openness and interest in talking with me after we got most of the weeding completed in her back yard. I remember that she took me to her second floor where all of her personals were safe and sound following the hurricane. She told me all about that Katrina weekend and her desire to leave as she knew that it meant trouble. Unfortunately there was a friend of hers that didn't feel the same, delayed departure, and ending up dying later on. That really bothered her that her friend was gone, and she found refuge in retrieving family photos throughout the room and telling me the story about each of them. I loved listening and being with her in those moments as I knew they were priceless and time withstanding.
Unfortunately the photos I took of her from that day were lost somehow in our computer, so I can only share through my words the warm hues of our moments. Her green eyes glowed and told endless stories of good and tough experiences. She was shy about her appearance but when given the opportunity to hold a photo of a family member before my camera she did without hesitation. My favorites of her were standing on her first floor which was still covered in dried mud patches. She had been scraping up some of the dirt with the front edge of her shovel. I asked her to stop and look into my camera. Gosh, the sunlight reflecting off of the walls and onto her face highlighted her beauty, and she blushed when I told her so.
Before we left that day I thanked her for opening up her world to us and me. She then said to me something along these lines, "No, thank you. I am more encouraged now that you are here." She then spoke of the difficulty just waking up to do little things herself to clean and rebuild, but knowing that we were there would get her moving again. This message to me became a big part of the inspiration to return to New Orleans again and again. Think, simple weeding and listening gave her the boost that she needed - love, encouragement, confidence and hope.
Dear Danielle, I am so sorry that I never returned after my second visit to share a hello and a hug just because. I'm sorry that I didn't share the beautiful images of you and listen to more of your stories. I hope that you know that I was thinking about you every time I went into the city, and will probably continue to do so even more now that you're gone. I wish that things didn't work that way...seeing the golden glow of our gifts more after we can't touch them anymore. But I suppose that the gifts you left with me are far beyond the physical and will always be with me.
I thank you very much sweet Danielle.
Please rest in peace.