“Message to My Girl” has barely been out a week and is already being reprinted! There are still copies around however so check out your local bookseller if you would like a copy (NZ); there are also a number of online booksellers who have it listed in NZ (Mighty Ape), Australia (quite a number when I checked) and the UK (Book Depository, ships worldwide).
We celebrated the book release with a party on Monday night where we had an opportunity to tell the story of the book over lovely food and wine. I was grateful for the opportunity to thank David Williams for collaborating with Jared on this project and for doing such an amazing job, and Allen & Unwin NZ for seeing its potential and taking on the publishing. Elise charged about the cafe charming people, completely oblivious to the reason for the party – it will be a good story to tell her one day.
It has been an overwhelming few days with lots of media coverage: Jared would be thrilled.
Here are some of the bits and pieces in the media over recent days if you are interested:
“Sunday” (TVNZ) on Sunday 27th September (11 minutes)
Articles in NZ Herald on Saturday 26th September
Radio Rhema Interview with David Williams
(really worth a listen)
Release of the documentary “Waiting for Baby Noel”
Creation Films have released their documentary online – it can be viewed at Good TV – see link below
Thank you for following our story and for your enthusiasm for “Message to My Girl”.
We look forward to hearing what you think!
Hannah & Elise
We are thrilled to know that “Message to my Girl” is now in stores.
Huge thanks to David Williams and Allen & Unwin NZ for making this dream of Jared’s a reality!
TVNZ’s “Sunday” (TV1) are doing a piece on the book this Sunday 27th September at 7pm; we’d love you to watch.
I am so proud of the way Jared poured his heart and soul into this book in his final weeks – for Elise and for anyone who ever followed or found hope in his story.
We hope very much that you are inspired and challenged by this – his final legacy to the world.
Spring descended on Auckland this weekend, with glorious warm blue sky days. Chores, laundry, groceries, catching up with friends in familiar places and spaces – it felt good to be outside. I found myself thinking back to spring last year when there was a very different sort of activity in the house: Jared was home from the hospice, Elise was 7.5 months old, the daily rhythms were Jared’s care and Elise’s routines. On one hand, Jared was dying and every day for him was an arduous mountain of fatigue and symptom management punctuated by visits from the hospice, district nurses, pain team, pharmacy, GP….on the other hand we were together again as a family, Jared was where he most wanted to be, and the changing of the seasons was accompanied by a new sense of hope and purpose.
David Williams, previously a stranger to us, had arrived on the scene to help Jared write his book – the book that many who read this blog had encouraged Jared to write. Each day, at 12pm, David would arrive with his iPad and camera, climb the stairs, sit with Jared for an hour and record their conversations. There were 21 conversations in total, covering everything from the story of Jared’s life to the reality of dying to Jared’s hopes and dreams for the book, and for Elise. These conversations, together with excerpts from Jared’s blog, form the basis of “Message to my girl”.
Jared’s commitment to the project was absolute. In many ways this was his “best” hour of the day, or, at least, the one he poured all of his available energy into. While battling pain, muddled thoughts and crippling fatigue, he would press on, aware that this final task was worthy of everything he had. Words can’t express our gratefulness to David for taking on this project. His courage, sensitivity and commitment to seeing Jared’s final dream realised were extraordinary.
“Message to my girl” is told in Jared’s words with his trademark openness, honesty and humour. It is a beautiful account of his life, and the purpose, courage and love that motivated him to the very end. My first copy arrived last weekend – I was struck by how proud Jared would have been that he had co-authored such a book and how precious this gift will be for Elise.
For me, the public release of the book is both exciting and anxiety-provoking – the spotlight was very much easier to share with someone as gregarious as Jared. However we were always united in wanting this story to be told authentically and honestly and the courage I need to gather for the next little while is nothing compared with that Jared displayed in his final weeks.
“Message to my girl” will be in New Zealand bookstores from Monday 28 September. It can be bought online at Fishpond and Mighty Ape (NZ). It is listed with the Book Depository (UK, ships worldwide) and may later be available through Amazon.
The official book launch will be on Monday 28th September at 6.30pm at “Crave”, 25 McDonald St, Morningside, Auckland. We’d love you to come – there will be refreshments, some of the key people telling the story of the book and copies available for purchase.
Finally, Spring presented the opportunity to introduce Elise to the snow. Her frown belies her southern roots….I have great hopes that future snow experiences will be more successful!
It was nine months last week since Jared passed away.
The length of a full term pregnancy.
Half of Elise’s short life.
Nine months of grieving in which life seems on one hand to have frozen still and on the other to have continued at a frenetic pace. Elise is running, climbing, learning new words every day. She is most at home stomping around the garden in her gumboots, chasing balls and bubbles, chattering away to herself. She has the charm of her father, the frown of her mother and attention to detail that exceeds either of her parents – no stray sequin or imperfection in the wooden floor goes un-inspected.
Jared was a great story teller but in many ways, in October 2013, it was Elise’s story that captured the hearts of thousands around the world and the interest of the team at Creation Films. They approached us at that time keen to tell the story of Elise (or baby Noel as she was known then) and subsequently spent many hours with us, documenting the journey of Jared coming to meet his little girl.
The result is “Waiting for Baby Noel”, a 47 minute documentary capturing that precious and nervous time in our lives when we were uncertain whether Jared would survive long enough to meet Elise. It is a story told mainly from Jared’s perspective but also involving quite a few others who were central to our story at the time. It is a wonderful legacy for Elise but also a tribute to the heartfelt global generosity that we were blessed with, enabling Jared to embark on the treatment that would eventually give him the precious months he had with his little girl.
The documentary will premiere on Thursday August 20th at the Capitol Cinema, 610 Dominion Road, Auckland. Screening times are as follows:
Thursday 20th August at 7pm
Thursday 20th August at 8.30pm
Sunday 23rd August at 7.30pm
It will later be available online – details to follow – for those outside of Auckland or unable to attend. The cost of the tickets has been kept to a minimum; it covers the hire of the venue and helps Creation Films recoup some of their production costs.
You can view the trailer for the documentary and purchase tickets via the link below
Hannah and Elise
Today marks three months since Jared passed away; words seem inadequate to describe how much we miss him and the love, laughter, wisdom and perspective he brought to our lives.
Elise will turn one on January 17th, just over a week away. She is an absolute joy, smiley, chatty, into everything, cruising the furniture and looking like she will walk any day; Jared would be so proud of her! She brings immeasurable light to every day and we are so thankful for the gift that she is, and the fact that Jared was able to enjoy her first few months.
We promised updates regarding the book that tells Jared’s story, as told to David Williams through a series of interviews in the final weeks of his life. We are thrilled to announce that the book has been accepted by a major international publisher and will most likely be published in October this year, which will mark the one year anniversary of Jared’s death. It will be a frank and powerful account of his extraordinary life, a rare insight into the thoughts, conflicts and dreams of a young person wrestling terminal cancer and a beautiful legacy for Elise to read one day. Jared always hoped that his story would be captured in a book and we are excited and incredibly grateful that this one last dream is becoming a reality.
We will keep you up to date with developments regarding the book.
Hannah, Elise and family.
Jared’s funeral will be held on Monday 13th October at 2pm at the Westgate Baptist Church, 67 Hobsonville Road, West Harbour, followed by afternoon tea.
For those unable to attend, we will be live-streaming the service via the following link which will also allow people to view the service for up to 30 days.
We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support and the many heartfelt tributes to Jared that have been written in the past couple of days.
Hannah, Elise and family
Jared passed away this morning, peacefully, at home, surrounded by love. This final blog post was written on 25 September when it was clear to Jared and all close to him that his time was nearing an end. To those who have followed this blog from the beginning or picked up along the way – thank you for journeying with Jared, for your camaraderie and encouragement. Sharing this journey gave Jared more purpose and fulfilment than can be expressed in words. We are so proud of him in every way and grateful for the immense love he brought to our lives. We will miss him always. Hannah and Elise.
On Wednesday 8th October 2014, I passed away at 1125 hours.
The time leading up to my death was mixed with days of feeling well and days of feeling pretty terrible. I am thankful that we only have to go through this process once in our life. I would have liked to have written more leading up to my death but the reality was that the medication and my state of mind made it impossible to write coherent statements and turn them into phrases and paragraphs.
One of the things that has happened since I became palliative was I received an offer of someone to write my book for me. David Williams was a friend of a friend, he approached me while I was in the hospice and was very enthusiastic about the process. I spent one hour a day for the better part of three weeks being interviewed, telling my story, in such that I hope my words are not lost. David is an author, previously a reporter, a PhD graduate who embraced this opportunity and I am forever grateful to him for doing so. During this time we traced the highs and lows of life but in particular the last 5.5 years of my diagnosis and, building on my blog, he is preparing to publish a book. This has been the focus of a lot of my energy in my final days. My hope is that this book will be an accurate representation for Elise to understand the life that her father has lived, and, secondarily, for those who may or may not be interested, exploring the highs and lows that someone might go through when diagnosed with cancer and navigating the subsequent journey. Those who read this blog may also find this interesting and Hannah will update the blog to advise when it will be published and how you can obtain a copy.
The second challenge of palliation has been balancing time with others and time with ourselves. As we have had a large number of requests for people to visit and spend time with us, this had to be weighed up against the limited strength and energy that I have had available to offer people, as well as the time that I needed to spend with Hannah and Elise. It was amazing to see the day to day fluctuation of my energies; some days I have felt rather well while others have been extremely low in energy. Those final days were progressively spent with family and close friends until family alone was the priority and all I had energy left for. The final stretches of palliation were characterised by massive amounts of fatigue where I did not even have energy for those who were closest to me. I routinely got to the point where I wished my time was up and wondered why my body was still alive when it felt like it didn’t have the energy to do that well. Why it bothered to hold on for longer than I would have liked is a question I do not have an answer for. The augmentation and palliation of drugs was critical at keeping me going and preserving my sanity.
For those who have followed this journey I thank you for keeping me company and offering encouragement when you did. I appreciated your support, although I probably did not express that appreciation enough. It was nice to know that people valued the words I had to say. My time now has come to an end and apart from occasional updates regarding the book etc. nothing further will be written. I hope God has blessed you through joining me on my travels.
God bless, for the final time. I am checking out.