“One ordinary day . . . I went from being an ordinary mom . . . to someone who couldn’t even recognize her own life anymore.” Every once in a while you read a book that touches you in such a way that it leaves a memorable mark in your spirit. RARE BIRD: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Anna Whiston-Donaldson shares her personal story that reminds many of us that “grief is so exhausting.”
No parent ever wants to bury their child. As a parent, Tim and Anna were protective and prayerful, yet optimistically cautious about their children. Never imagining that one day they would become those parents.
One afternoon their son, Jack went out to play with two friends and a freak rain storm started. As the waters rose quickly, he slipped into the creek, was swept away by the current and ended up trapped in a drain pipe. Once his body was found the entire community was wrapped up in grief, the fact within “minutes his body had traveled fifty yards.”
Written from a mother’s perspective, the loss and grief is no less unbearable for the surviving family members, father Tim and 10-year-old, Margaret. The unexpectedness of the tragedy and the way he died has thrown them into a state of flux, where everyday becomes a blur. Each day brought a special set of challenges for her. One day they were a family of four the next they adjusting to their “new normal.” They were now a family of three. As the daily guilt overwhelmed her, she fought to accept the reality the finality of it all. Anna continued to ask herself, “. . . Can someone be gone, dead, when his favorite cereal is in the pantry?”
On many occasions Anna is angry at her husband. Angry and resentful because “many days she can barely drag herself out of bed and he has “resumed” a level of normalcy and routine in his life. She is also mad at God, angry for taking her son too soon. She laments, “It is hard to care about anything other than our loss and our struggle to survive right now.” She struggled to understand why it happened “because hurting people want to know understand; we want to know why . . . Every person in a family matters, and when one is gone, the family is off-kilter.”
THOUGHTS for your SOUL:
- “Grieving is the price we pay for loving him so very much.”
- “Refusing to at least try to enjoy life out of loyalty for someone who is gone cuts us off from even the chance of good days ahead. It squanders the lessons we’ve learned about making the most of life now. It compounds the wreckage and devastation.”
The saving grace through all of this was the enormous emotional support from family, friends and community. With time, she relaxed her ire with God and realized that all along, “He has been there with them in the midst of their pain . . . Signs remind me that the God I believe in is active right now, pouring compassion out on my own little hurting life.” There was an unexpected revelation about friendships and the friends she “expected”would be there for her/them. She learned that “Prior closeness does not determine who will show up for you . . . death breaks things, even friendships.”
RARE BIRD is a raw, honest and touching recollection of how Jack’s death changed her in ways she never expected. She wanted, needed to share, so she wrote a book. The pages became her therapy, her journaling helped her to come to her to express her sorrow and gain the courage to finally move forward. The lesson learned is “Whether we’re facing the loss of health, relationships, expectations, or even our dreams . . . You’ll realize that you’re braver than you think and that survival is possible when life’s storms take us in uncertain, unwanted directions.”
To read more about RARE BIRD and the author, Anna Whiston-Donaldson click here.
Let’s BOND over BOOKS rates RARE BIRD as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pages) . . . just the right mixture of content and pages.
Disclaimer: BONDing over BOOKS received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.