The Courage to Be Your Beautiful Self:
The Legacy of Darcy Belanger
I woke up on Thursday morning, after another hour or two of sleep, but this time with barely a voice at all. When I tried to speak, I croaked. I did not have a cold, so it was no infection. It was somehow related to the shock of Darcy’s death. It was pointing to something within myself that needed my attention, but I still did not know what.
As soon as we completed the urgent press outreach, I would need to get back into my music studio to record a song for Darcy. There had been talk the day before of me coming out with a track as soon as possible. My voice had to heal quickly. I was also acutely aware that in each second, 14,000 tons of Arctic ice melts into the ocean. There was literally no time to lose.
The hoarseness I was experiencing called for complete vocal rest, which meant no talking, not even whispering. But how could I do that with more interviews that day? And how would I direct my fellow volunteers?
Speaking felt too costly. More than ever, each word I would spend with the media had to count. Throughout the morning before the first interview, I silently communicated in any way I could— texts, written notes, and gestures—whatever it took to move MAPS forward. Rishi was invaluable, joining phone conversations to interpret my gestures. I remember one instance when speaking with a colleague working on media outreach, I sensed she needed to persevere with greater determination. I gestured a karate chop, which Rishi accurately interpreted to my friend as, “Parvati says you need to be more fierce.” I am blessed to have a husband who understands me so well.
He accompanied me to one of the last interviews of the day, at a national TV studio downtown. Once hair and makeup were done, I was outfitted with a microphone clipped to my blouse and an earbud allowing me to hear the live interview questions being asked in another studio. Seated alone in a dark room, facing a black screen with intense lights on me, questions seemed to drop into my ear out of nowhere.
After days of virtually no sleep and feeling emotionally maxed out, I was inwardly asking for grace that each word would serve Darcy and the message of MAPS. But then, on live television going out to the whole country, I drew a blank to one of the reporter’s questions. A few seconds felt like an eternity. I am usually quick on my feet, sharp and focused. So instinctively, I rested into the moment, feeling sure an answer would arise as they always had. But this time, nothing came. I offered, in earnestness, that I had no answer, then swiftly pivoted the conversation back to Darcy and his legacy of courage.
Rishi and I walked out of the studio into pouring rain that soaked through my down winter coat. I slipped into a restaurant for shelter as he continued on to where our car was parked, so he could pick me up. My mind felt like cold rain, pelting me with relentless self-criticism.
I was sure I had bombed the interview and done MAPS and Darcy a disservice. I had not hit the points I had planned and worse, I had frozen on live TV. I sat alone in my soggy clothes, confused and deflated. What I had relied on—flashes of insight, intuitive knowing—and now Darcy—had gone.
Rishi drove up and I darted through the rain to jump into the car. I was quiet for the trip home, not just because of vocal rest, but because of the inner chatter that I knew was not serving anything. There was no need to give energy or voice to feed a downward spiral. I needed to give it space and let it be. I turned to my spiritual foundation to remind myself that “this too shall pass”. Thoughts are like clouds that waft through the sky. And at that moment, I was temporarily settled under a raincloud in more ways than one.
I wondered if I would ever do interviews again. I was still processing anger at the media circus I felt I had been in that week. This outlet at least was making right by offering Darcy and MAPS a corrective live interview after a poor news clip the day prior. But some of the other interviews I had experienced made me feel I needed to be more discerning. I could not be part of any system that was unwilling to partner for the truth. After all, that was what interviews were: partnerships, two entities coming together to support each other in shared purpose. But had we had the same goal? Or were the partnerships one-sided, even taking advantage at times?
In all my songs, books and videos, I feel I can tell the truth. But in some interviews, I felt filtered through someone else’s agenda, and edited into their voice. I was beginning to sense that I had allowed my own presence to get buried in the rubble of the crash I was reporting.
Soon after Rishi and I returned home, a friend forwarded an article from the Washington Post—the same outlet that had reported at the end of December the alarming news of 14,000 tons of Arctic ice melting every second. After Rishi saw the news on his phone, he handed it to me. My jaw dropped.
As I scanned through the article, I could not believe the words I was reading. The reporter was describing the plane crash site. He highlighted that after the remnants of the airplane had been pulled from the ground and piled to one side, a brochure for MAPS lay prominent amidst the rubble.
I knew that this was our “MAPS book”, a twenty-page, full-colour, spiral-bound brochure used to present the problem facing our world and the way MAPS responds to it. I also knew that it must have been in Darcy’s carry-on bag, probably close to him, because he never checked luggage when he travelled. Despite the crash that instantly ended every life on board that plane, somehow the simple paper document had emerged intact.
This jolted me out from under my personal raincloud. As I breathed in what I was seeing, I felt a heat surge through my spine. The discovery of the lone booklet in the wreckage was more than poignant. It was a symbol of survival. The necessary truth of MAPS will rise like a phoenix from the ashes and set us all free.