Danielle Christopher

The Wind of Autism

Mar
27

Like a sunrise I didn’t know I needed,
you marched into our life to make your claim.
Your silent words I should have heeded,
delays past milestones, red-flags everywhere.
Your eyes expressed when words failed.
The simplest thing could trigger a storm.
I pulled every trick I could until you sailed
back to the moment, back to me.

As my heart aches, helpless to you.
You wrap your arms around my neck
Thaws my winter chill, I feel anew
Ready once again, to chase your seasons.

My Writing Life: Mom Edition

Mar
19

 

img_0152You can’t edit a blank page, just like you can’t make a kid take a nap.

When my oldest was a baby, inspiration hit me to write a children’s book for her. Our oldest cat was getting on in age. I was afraid she wouldn’t know him as she grew up. One day while she napped in my arms, I grabbed a crayon and wrote the outline on the back of the cable bill envelope in 30 minutes.

I had self-published Harley Finds His Family and Harley as a gift for my baby. Those books sparked my writing cravings ever since I was in high school. I loved Creative Writing as a kid. Life has now taken me far away from it.

During her naps, I realized I should keep a notebook and pen around for ideas in between Mommy and Me classes, diaper changes and feedings. I also wrote in a journal to give to her one day.

Just as I hit my stride with my vice, I was pregnant again. In between all the interruptions, I kept dusting notebooks with my ideas. When I dove into the world of blogging and was published, I knew I found a sweet haven where I could be a wife, a mom, and me all in one place.

My books were read by many, including celebrities.

After having multiple articles published online, I began to submit for anthologies. If anything, I would have great stories to leave for my kids in case I had the same fate as my mom. She died when I was ten years old. I didn’t know any of her stories.

I will admit that I got a charge to see my name in print. Writing my stories of what I had been through was validating. I always hoped that there might be one reader who saw themselves through my words.

I was ready to quit writing many times. The last time just as I was about to delete my blog, a reader emailed me. In the message she said how grateful she was for the honesty of my pain. She said she didn’t feel alone by reading my words. Fueled by her reaching out, I kept writing. It became larger than me.

My health took a bad turn a few years ago. I turned to reading books rather than writing for publication. I wrote in journals using my favorite pen. I wrote in hospital waiting rooms. I wrote while watching my kids play in the backyard, at 3am because I couldn’t sleep, and when I knew I couldn’t block my thoughts.

It was during those stolen moments that I realized I have always been a writer. I write to find my voice. It is the cheapest therapy in a place where it doesn’t ask for more goldfish crackers or has meltdowns .

There may be weeks that slip by without writing. It is always lingering under my skin. I crave it now like I used to crave chocolate. I might not get it everyday, but when I do, it is well worth the wait.

 

 

 

Thank you, Mr. Vint

Mar
08

danielle2016

Snuggled on the couch with photo albums spread out, my kids ask again for stories about when I was in school. It is the end of the current school year. We are chatting about the good memories of the year. My kids are amazed that there was life before them.

“Who was your favorite teacher ever, Mom?” My nine-year old asks.

I smile at the question. There is no doubt how I will answer.

“That’s easy. It was Mr. Vint, my high school drama teacher. “

It may have been 26 years ago, but I can still hear his laughter in the theatre. I had taken his class as part of my first semester in Grade 11. His reputation was famous in our town. Colin Vint is not only the fun acting teacher, but a real actor too. He has done many shows that are filmed a few towns away. Mr. Vint is the closest thing to Hollywood around.

From the first moment he spoke in class, I was mesmerized. He projected his voice all over the theatre. There was a sense of magic in the air by being in that environment. Everything that hurt me was left by the door. I can escape into whatever character he directed me to play.

Until that one monologue.

I scoured books in the library and the local bookstore. One afternoon I snuck on the bus to go downtown to check out the main library. I found the perfect monologue. It resonated with me. I know the character because it is in my soul. Not only was I going to perform circles around my classmates, I was going to get an A for it.

The day arrived to perform it. Mr. Vint called my name and I took my place on stage. I heard the whispers from the mean girls and I muted them out. I breathed in my nervous breath and out the negative energy.

I began.

“ Do you remember, Mama? I love you and you love me. And what went wrong..” I couldn’t speak anymore. All the air left me and my face became wet. I leaned my head over my knees because I thought I was going to faint. A hand on my shoulder snapped me back into reality.

Mr. Vint guided me up and down the stairs into his office. As we walked he told the class to take 5. That is acting speak to take a break.

After sitting me down in the spare chair, Mr. Vint filled a cup of water and handed it to me. I gulped it fast. I have no idea what made me snap. He went to his phone and tapped a few buttons. I couldn’t hear what was said.

“ Do you need more time?” he gently said.

I shook my head as the office door opened. It was the school counselor, Mr. Crampton. Everyone called him Alf. The two men stood by the door in stage whispers.

Mr. Crampton leaned beside my chair and asked if I wanted to come to his office to take a break. Nodding, I drifted to his office.

With the door to his office closed, I began to cry again. All he did was push the tissue box across his desk to me and waited.

Without heisitation, I begand to tell my truth. I told of the immense loss of my mom, the verbal and physical abuse and the hell that is now in my house. I did not leave anything unturned.

Mr. Crampton nodded and told me I did the right thing. He told me to wait in the hall as he made a few phone calls. Then, he said I can go and that his door is open anytime.

When I arrived home, I was met with my dad and stepmom. It was odd because they were supposed to be working. My feet felt like cement as they sat me down to talk. They had received the call from Mr. Crampton. My heart began to pound so loud I thought they could hear it. I could not tell how that conversation went. I thought that I would be dead or kicked out.

As the fear dispitated, I realized they told me that they were worried about me. They made an appointment with a psychologist to get answers. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea how this would play out.

Over the next two weeks I saw the professional that they arranged. I told him the same thing that I told Mr. Crampton. Dr. Golden asked how old I am. When I told him, he smiled. He informed me that legally I didn’t have to live at home anymore. I was shocked. There is light after all. Only, I didn’t know what that looked like.

One week later, my fairy godmother called to check in. I moved in with her a few days later.