Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hannah's Gift, by Maria Housden

Maria Housden tells the story of the short but profound life of her daughter, Hannah, who dies at the age of three after battling cancer for about a year.  She tells of her daughter's sweet example of faith and the happiness that can come from the simple things in life.  Her daughter's brief but significant time on this earth touched the lives of so many and continued to touch lives after her death.  She talks of her grief and of coming to terms with it.  She talks about the struggles in her marriage, of her thoughts on ending her own life, of the affect it had on her son, her beliefs as a Christian and the questioning of those beliefs.  She talks of her struggles with miscarriages and her role as a mother and all the imperfections and insecurities that come with one of the most challenging paths a woman can take.  In the end, she's able to accept life for what it is, do what she can with what she has and knows, and realizes her potential as a person.

This book, along with the other book on losing a loved one I've read, was foreign to me.  I've only lost one grandparent my whole life.  I, too, have had a miscarriage, but my own religious beliefs were a great comfort to me during both of these losses.  Maria questions a lot of things that I feel I have the answers too.  I don't know how I'd react to my own child's death after watching her (or him) suffer for a year.  This little girl was amazing.  She's said to have only been barely three when she dies, yet she talks like she's much older.  She (I believe) must've had a strong connection with "the other side", as she knew she was going to die, but knew she was going to live with God and was actually excited about that.  Knowing what I know, I have to wonder if I would have the same struggles with grief as this woman did.  I would hope not, but then again, I'm only human.  (And Heaven forbid I should ever find out first hand!) I have to admit, though, I was really growing tired of hearing about her daughter and how she was reminded of her in everything and wanted her to be a part of her "new life".  I wanted to say, "Get over it already."  But, having never been through that, I know that my ignorance of the matter is what is fueling those words, so please don't be offended if you've suffered a loss and know what she's going through.  I don't and hope to never know. 

This book and the last book I read talked a lot of breaking out of one's shell, embracing the unknown - about the world and about oneself.  They both talk of daring to break free of the stereotype we, as women, are expected to fulfill.  I found this author from an article I read online about mothers who willingly turn custody of their children over to their ex's after a divorce.  Her next book I'm going to start today is about that journey.  I'm anxious to see her point of view on the matter, as I'm very old fashioned in that I strongly believe the mother should be at home with her kids as God intended it to be.  Though, I can't help but read these things and wonder, "What if...?".

I've been finding quotes in a few of these books that I like to make a note of, quotes that might as well be coming from me.  Here are some from this book:

"Truth is fierce and unrelenting.... When we are willing to do the best we can with what we know, to be honest with ourselves and others about who we are and what really matters to us, only then are the lives we live and the love we receive truly our own."

"There was a part of me, I realized, that was overly critical of everything, that wanted to teach people, especially my children, about the "right" way to do things."

"I longed to bring the same attention to the busy-ness in my every day, to do something simply for the joy of doing it, without worrying whether people noticed or liked it."

"If I was serious about living life more fully, I was going to have to let go of my need for everything, including myself and others, to be perfect."

"I also knew that I had to start living my life.... I no longer felt willing for life to continue on without me."

This was a very good book, a quick read, and something that I think those who have lost a loved one would love to relate to.

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