Last June, I met the author of the book, ‘Rare Bird’ and blogger at ‘An Inch of Gray’, Anna Whiston-Donaldon. We were at a blogging conference, and she was sitting two women over from me wearing a strapless denim dress that I also owned. I asked her about her dress, and she laughed and said she had picked it up at a thrift store. Ah, I thought, someone I could be friends with. We chatted, and I remember remarking to my now friend sitting next to me how warm and friendly she seemed.
The next day, we sat next to each other in a class and we chatted. She talked about her soon to be released book, and I could hardly wait to get home and put it in my Amazon cart. And that’s exactly what I did. Like I said, this was in June, and I read the description of the book ‘On an ordinary September day, twelve-year-old Jack is swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions….’
Oh no. No, no, no.
‘Rare Bird’ was released in September, three months later, and I had pre-purchased it and received it the week it was released. I left it in the box for a week. Then, I moved it to a bedside table. Then, into my purse.
You see, I was terrified to read this book. Losing one of our children is my greatest fear, and I was hesitant to read it because it made me physically ill to think about Anna losing her son. And then my birthday came around the next month, and I wrote about my own trauma I’ve experienced in my life and about how I choose joy in spite of it all. Anna commented on my Facebook post about how choosing joy was a good lesson for all of us. She’s a wise one, that Anna.
So, I picked up her book and started reading. While I have never felt her grief, I have felt pain, and on some level, I believe that pain is universal. I’ve had several friends who have grieved the loss of their children, and I’ve never felt that I could say anything gracious enough to even matter.
When I read the book, I couldn’t help but cry, there’s no way around it. It was almost excruciating to read because I live with my guard up, as I believe most of us do, just waiting for the other shoe to drop and ruin our blissfully perfect existence. She is proof that the other shoe can and will drop.
She is also proof of resilience. This book is hauntingly beautiful and profound in a way that I have struggled to put words around. You can feel her pain as she writes through it, and yet, you can also see the bravery and grace she and her family gathers as they work to function as a family unit again. She openly discusses gratitude and regrets, reminding all of us to live in the present because life is so fleeting.
Every night since my children were born, I kiss them after they are asleep and cover them up with their favorite blanket. Every single one of those nights, as I close my eyes, kiss their foreheads, and inhale their sweet smell of soap, I thank God that we have been given one more day with them, and I pray that he watches over the parents that are unable to kiss their children good night because they are no longer there. Anna has been added to that list, and I pray that her words inspire you in the ways that they did for me.
If you or someone you know is, or has experienced grief, this is the book to read to know that you are not alone in your feelings. However, if you want to be inspired, you should read this book, as it left me with a sense of hope I haven’t felt in another book in a long time.
You can buy Rare Bird here: Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love