Archive for Dana's Life Before Olympics

FINDING COURAGE WITHIN!

Dana...second from left...in the Orphanage

STARLIGHT STORY

(Age 5)

 Abandoned by our mother when I was three, my two brothers and myself were placed in an orphanage where we were raised for the next 11 years.  It was touch growing up…feeling lost, alone and unloved.

Yet eventually, my mother did finally get back in touch with us, and would occasionally write or call, with promises that she would come visit or come and take us out of there to live with her.  I remember the rare times when I would receive a letter during mail call, and I would gallop all around the dormitory, waving that letter high in the air.  And then there was the time that I actually got to talk with her on the telephone, and she said she’d be coming to get us the next day to go spend the summer with her. I was so excited, I couldn’t’ sleep all night long.

So the next morning I convinced my housemother to let me wait for her on the front steps.  Shortly after breakfast I sat down on the cold stone steps, waiting, watching, hoping.  As each car entered the long circular driveway, my heart would beat a little faster, and I would shield my eyes from the glare of the sun and try and make out who it was.  As each car left with their excited, laughing children…my heart would sink a little lower.  Finally the bell rang for lunch, and I pulled myself to my feet, and went off to the cafeteria.

“Perhaps later” I said to myself!  After lunch, my Housemother, told me that, “No one will be coming to pick you up,” and that I would remain at the home, once again during the long summer vacation.

It was late that afternoon, that I sat in the deep grass and clover on the playground, beneath a huge sweet smelling Magnolia tree.  I watched the few kids that were left, playing a game of Jump Rope.  And as I thought about that morning, the familiar pain of abandonment wrapped it’s tight hold around my heart, and a feeling of hopelessness spread through my soul.

The bell sounded for us to gather in our groups and head inside the building, so I quickly wiped my face and walked across the lawn towards the huge stone steps.   I walked up the steps with the other children, then paused for a moment before entering the doorway.  I turned around to take one last breath of the fresh sweet air before heading inside to the dark, musty smelling dormitories.

It was then that I noticed…there on the horizon in the twilight, just above the tree-line…a single star glittering brightly.  Quickly, I closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and whispered to myself…“Starlight, star-bright, first star I see tonight.  I wish I may, I wish I might…have the wish I wish tonight.

And I made that wish…just before the hall monitor, smacked me on the backside with a ruler, and ushered me inside.  Later, in the quiet of the night, I held close to that star in my mind as the tears fell like rain down my cheeks.  Muffling my sobs in my pillow, I paused for a moment as a thought suddenly appeared in my mind.  It was three little words that I had heard in a Sunday school church sermon… “Be not afraid!”

Taking a deep breath…I thought about those three words and the light they held within, began to lend me their courage.  Quieting down…I dried my tears with the edge of the sheet, and finally fell asleep, dreaming of my wish on that star.

It was a wish that I repeated, year after year.  And it was a wish that always gave me a glimmer of hope…even in my darkest hour…for as a child, I believed in the power of wishes and stars and the three little words, “Be not afraid.”  And my wish was for love, a place to call home, and a happier tomorrow.

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Cheers!

Dana

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“Dana’s Near-Suicide Story”

Light or Darkness. Which should you choose when all is lost?

When you fall to the earth and darkness closes in.  When the light of hope begins to dim.  Hold tight to your beliefs.  And one day, you will soar again.


 

 

It was warm that evening.  It was just about midnight.  Seething with self-disgust and emotional turmoil, I sat on the edge of my bed and rocked back and forth in silent agony.  As the minutes ticked by, my distress increased, almost to the point of hysteria.  I just couldn’t ‘take it’ anymore!  With a heart-wrenching sob, I suddenly sprang to my feet, grabbed my car keys and ran down the stairs to get my car.  Pealing out of the driveway, I raced off towards the nearby mountain highway.

With tears streaming down my face and my throat tight with constriction, I forced the accelerator down further and the car slid screeching around the mountain turn in the ‘inky’ blackness of the night.  With my face rigid with anger and self-loathing, I braced my hands on the wheel as I fish-tailed out of the curve and head down the last straight-a-way, and towards the death-defying hair-pin turn 500 yards ahead of me. I cleared the last stand of tall pine trees and raced into the night sky.

It was then that I was suddenly hit with the most beautiful, panoramic view of twinkling stars on the beckoning horizon.  Still on ‘auto-pilot,’ I punched the accelerator all the way to the floor.  Suddenly, my brain flashed back to childhood and to the many nights I gazed in hope at the stars in the night sky. One image from the past, stormed into my mind with the impact of thunder.  It was the evening when I saw that single star.  The evening when I made a wish.  I was only six years old.  But that simple wish gave me the hope and courage to walk into the following years with a tiny spark of hope.

“What happened to me!” I shouted in rage.  “I don’t believe!”  “I don’t believe!”  “I….”  My thoughts and speech were suddenly blocked by a single booming phrase that thundered through my mind, “Be not afraid!”  My mind cleared.  One thousand one, one thousand two…I switched my foot over to slam on the brake.  As the tires screeched eerily on the dark pavement, my car slid at frightening speed, straight toward the flashing yellow guard rail.  It was a flimsy barrier overlooking a vertical drop off of thousands of feet of solid rock.  “Too late,” I hissed to myself…

That one moment in time, changed my life forever.

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