I think I discovered Anna’s blog, An Inch of Gray, after the freak accident that took her son. At least. that’s when I dug deep and read all I could, heartbroken for her and wondering how in the world she could find the words to talk about that horrible day that the rains came and washed away her only son.
But somehow, she did. She found words full of wisdom and grace, eloquence, truth, and both love and pain. Those blog posts share bits of her grief and life after that loss. I’ve since become closer to Anna and gotten to know her, but I could never really understand what she has been going through since that day three years ago.
Recently, Anna’s book, Rare Bird, came out. It’s the story of that day her son, Jack, died, and her life since then with the other two remaining members of her family. The book expands on those blog posts, revealing hidden sources of grief and light in Anna’s life.
Somehow, Anna is able to write about a mother’s worst nightmare, the death of a child, in such a way that brings her readers to that horrible day, lets them feel what she was feeling, and then brings them out of it to the other side, where she is….a place of grief over the loss of a vital part of their family, and hope in the future that somehow, the three of them will make it through.
What struck me most about this book was how much I related to it. Everyone grieves differently, I know that. But I think there are some universal truths about how grieving works, how society treats people who are grieving, and what it can do to a person’s way of thinking. I actually folded the corner of the page with this quote on it:
I remember walking into a grocery store after my first husband died, and holding my head down. I knew that everyone knew who I was (even though I didn’t know them….it’s a small town phenomenon). I didn’t want the attention I was getting, or for people to pity me when they saw me. I felt so terribly alone, just like Anna talked about.
Rare Bird shows Anna’s faith, time and time again, but it also clearly shows how conflicted a person can be about God, about bad things that happen to good people, about the rest of a life wasted that could have been so full and so, SO much longer. This sentiment and this confusion about a God in Heaven that lets things like this happen (a twelve year old boy who was always so careful, dying in a freak accident, or a young father killed by a drunk driver shortly after finding out he was having another baby) and the temptation to push Him away:
Because hurting people want to understand; we want to know why. But we don’t want people coming to conclusions for us, feeding us neat little answers of what God’s will is and how His mind and heart work. No thank you. (p. 218)
I think what I love most about this book, other than the fact that I truly relate to so much of it, is that Anna is honest without being preachy. She honors Jack’s memory without turning him into some kind of saint, and rather, lets her readers know little details about what wasn’t perfect about her boy in order to demonstrate what a real, smart, funny boy he was.
You can buy Anna’s book, Rare Bird, on Amazon, but I want to give one away as well. I preordered the book before I was given an advance copy, so I’m going to send someone my extra copy.
All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me why you want to read it or who you want to share it with, and I’ll pick a winner randomly next Monday night (9/22).