As a parent, you try to do everything to protect your child to keep them safe, yet allowing them to spread their wings and practice moments of courage and bravery so that they can eventually leave the nest and soar. When they are young, you teach them kindness, goodness, and integrity. You protect them by locking up your cleaning supplies, teaching them not to take candy from strangers, and monitoring their internet usage. You wonder if you are doing enough. You feel like if you follow all the rules and do the right things, life should be good.
Regardless of how much you try to control, you find out you really have very little it. In a moment, it can all slip away, leaving you questioning if you did it all wrong, if you did enough, if you should have done it differently. You learn that you love the child you have been given, not the child you thought you would have. You love, but as time passes, you learn to love well.
Anna Whiston-Donaldson, mother, writer, and blogger, experienced one of a mother’s worst nightmares. She followed all the rules to protecting her children without smothering. It was a warm day at the end of summer, and she let her children play with the neighborhood children in the rain.
Anna tells her story in Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love. Her 12-year-old son, who was cautious and always followed the rules, was swept away in a raging creek, a creek that she had never warned her children about, a creek that was usually dry and had never given an inkling of a threat, a creek that grew into a monstrous raging river that day during a 150-year rain event.
Anna’s story is also a journey of her faith in Christ – not a fluffy, shallow story about how He carried her through and gave her all the strength she needed, though He did. She tells a story sharing her raw grief, emotions, and changes over the next year as their family dynamics were forever altered on this side of heaven. She writes with heart and poise, gifted with words to evoke the reader to share the journey with her. In the middle of her grief, she also shares her glimpses of hope, love, encouragement.
I found this book to be utterly heart-wrenching as well as enlightening. I hope never to experience such depths of despair, but I do hope to be able to learn from others without having to endure it myself. She helped me to understand what others may need in their times of grief, to know what is ‘normal’ as one grieves, and proves that after the darkness can come the dawn. (I received a complimentary copy of this book from Convergent Books in exchange for my honest review.)