Dear 16 year-old Danielle

You have an innate ability to survive
what some people refer to as cockroach strength.
Don’t take it the wrong way; the reference is correct.
Think of its indestructibility.

You survived today, as scary as that was.
I still don’t know why our street was blessed with a high
cop to house ratio or why their residencies
seemed triangularly planted around our house.

Don’t be too hard on him. He might have been stressed,
living a forced life that really wasn’t him or
maybe there was something with the job that he had.
It’s too bad he couldn’t be honest with us all.

You will meet someone; you will bend over backwards,
do everything to make him happy even when
it means you have to leave your family, yourself behind
and work on things that unnerve your confidence.

You will struggle with working, dealing with people,
getting work done on time, handling multiple loads.
You will always feel left out, by colleagues and spouse,
until you see your walls have always protected you.

You will be dealing with conditions that take the mind.
When you first meet that mind, you’ll see your dreams for it change.
It will push you to the limit, make you realize
how little the world changes over the years.

You will be fighting death every step of the way.
I guess a birth shrouded in death leads to that life.
Death of brother, then father, then mother. Yourself.
Hang in there. People will be needing you.

You have an innate ability to survive
with a smile, with kind words, with ears that listen.
You observe quietly from your corner in hopes
no one finds out what you lived. But I must warn you.

Holding it all in the way you do constantly
is damaging. Someone will still find out your life’s
struggles and pain the day you can’t stop the tears
from flowing freely. Better to be an advocate.

Remember the old folks home. Remember Georgina.
Remember you taught her to colour in the lines.
That is where you need to work. You will with your child.

Work with people. Not machines. Not droid-like humans.

Most of all, don’t forget to laugh. Look to the sky.
Answers are written in the clouds

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