He arrived on a Friday, the weather absolutely glorious.
It was morning and the Home was deserted. All the kids were on holiday. Des was taken in, sat at a table and given some breakfast. After he finished eating, the woman in charge told him to take a stroll around the grounds so he could become familiar with his new surroundings.
Des walked into the gardens, began exploring. Next thing he knew he had stumbled upon a beauty spot, known locally as the Golden Valley. There he stopped and gazed into its tranquil, breath-taking scenery.
And then it happened, the Orphan’s Epiphany arrived and made itself real to him. He was not alone in experiencing its terrible gifts.
All of us who have been abandoned have experienced the moment when we suddenly realise with a deep horror that we are completely and utterly alone in this world: that there is no one to guide us and protect us or help us. There is no mother, no father, no love. The only people on our side are ourselves and we will never be the same again.
All this revealed to Des on the most glorious of summer days.
‘I stood on this spot looking down the valley on this beautiful day and I am thirteen years old,’ Des said, ‘and I said to myself, You are on your own. There is no one there. You are alone but you know what? Part of me was okay about it. Part of me was absolutely terrified and sad. Yet I also felt kind of a thrill because now I was in charge of my own destiny.’
Taken from But We All Shine On: The Remarkable Orphans of Burbank Children's Home by Paolo Hewitt, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers on 21 October 2014. Find out more or order your copy here.