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A Far Cry…From Home – Book Review by Ken Harris

Feb 5, 2014 | A Far Cry…From Home, Book Reviews, Books & Publications, Books on Grief

Wednesday screams different things for different people. Take the Geico camel for instance; we all know what he says! (I crack up every time I see that commercial.) To some, Wednesday is just another day or the countdown to the weekend, the day to do laundry, or perhaps a day off. I’m thinking that Wednesday @AFarCryFromHome will now be dubbed Reviews Day, a day to share some of the amazing book reviews that have come my way since the launch in September 2013. Many wonderful people have shared their thoughts about A Far Cry…From Home that have touched me in ways that I never imagined. A Far Cry…From Home has been purchased by folks all across the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom. The stories they have shared with me after reading my story solidified that crazy notion I had two years ago; the notion to bring my story to life, through Tyler’s words. There are two recurring comments that I receive: “I feel like I am part of your life even though we have never met” and “Your story is so raw and heartfelt.” I guess if it isn’t raw…it isn’t real.

My first Reviews Day message comes from a longtime friend, Ken Harris, who unfortunately became a member of the “club” when his daughter passed away a couple years ago. When I first read his story, it took my breath away and my heart ached for him and his wife, Jackie.

Dearest Sandy,

I don’t quite know where to begin.  I received your book a couple weeks ago and set it down with plans to read it right away.  There it sat, on the shelf in my closet next to my watches.  I saw it every day and thought maybe tonight I’ll begin to read it; for whatever reason I never picked it up.  Jackie is out of town in Dallas speaking at a national convention for a few days.  I thought it would be a perfect time to take her car in for service so I scheduled an appointment for today and I took the book along thinking this would be a good time to read.  I read the forward by Mr. Lynch and closed the book.  The memories of that sorrowful day were so vivid it was as if I was back in time.  I closed the book.  After about an hour, the service tech told me it would be about four hours to do the repair, so I decided to leave.  I drove over to the cigar shop I’ve been working at which is just a couple miles up the road from the dealership. I made a Starbucks stop first and then took my coffee and book to the shop.  I sat down in the lounge, fired up a cigar and began to read.

About two and half hours later, I completed the book.  I felt drained and exhilarated all at the same time.  My head spinning between my own memories of Tyler, the stories shared, my step-daughter Shauna and my memories of her; the convergence of understanding your pain and knowing of mine and Jackie’s pain. The joys that loved ones bring and the ultimate sadness and sorrow brought on by their seemingly senseless passing.  I would love to wax eloquently about your creativity and writing but I seem to just be unable to form the words which adequately convey how moved I was by your book. 

Telling your story through Tyler’s voice was unique, and perhaps for some who have lost a child, a way for them to think of their loved ones which will allow them to heal – perhaps more quickly than they otherwise would have.  What is clear from the book, at least for me, is that the strengths and attributes that Tyler possessed are the same that you do; a great smile, a warm and generous heart, a commitment to live life zealously, to express and share love, the ability to touch the hearts of all the people you meet.  You gave him that gift and he in turn shared it with all the lives that he touched.

You continue to allow him to do this by keeping his memory alive and vital for all the young people that have followed whether through the Foundation, attending the graduations and/or keeping in touch with his many friends as their lives have continued on.  All of which are no easy task, yet instrumental in your healing process.  Through all of this, I think of Austin, as he too possesses those gifts; as the book tells of the story of the young girl involved with the school musical; how Austin’s ability as a senior to make a younger student feel so special.  He too has that warm smile and gentile heart.   Austin has had to learn to find in his heart and mind the ability to give some of the patience, generous understanding and kindness he offers so easily to others back to himself - it is part of his healing.  Please tell him I said to be good to his own self, he deserves it.  Tell him not only his mom and dad want him to extend those gifts, but Ty would want him to as well.  I’m sure of it.

I told you on my last trip in how sorry I was that I was not the friend I should have been at your time of greatest need and only came to understand that only after the death of my step-daughter.  Sandy, as only you could, you tried to remove that guilt I felt and comfort me by saying you understood all along.  I wish for you great joy and happiness in the years to come and that you continue to thrive at work, as a wonderful mom, a loving wife, and may I add selfishly, a true friend. 

Congratulations on this wonderful achievement as a published author.  I hope this project has brought you some joy and more importantly, some peace.  I guess I should stop now so you can get on with that “peace” part.  By the way, for some reason, I read the book today – October 28th!  I love a good connection.

And once again, I am overwhelmed and speechless. I love you Kenny and Jackie.

Thanks for reading!

– Sandy Richards

Sandy Richards is a devoted mom and celebrated author whose experience of losing a child has allowed her to connect, inspire and heal with other grieving parents through her memoir A Far Cry ...From Home and her blog. In addition, Sandy strives each day to inspire children to read, imagine, and smile through her award winning children’s books and ongoing volunteerism in her local school district. Sandy lives with her husband, Joe, in Milford, MI.