“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.
My name is Hannah and I am Jared’s wife. For a while now, he has been encouraging me to write a post for his blog. Another voice perhaps. Another perspective. Those of you who know Jared well, know that he is a talker. Not many people would describe me as such. But I think the time does come when it is important to break one’s silence; at the very least, to respond to the many people who have expressed love and concern for us both through this blog site.
It has been 15 months since Jared was diagnosed with metastatic bowel cancer. Until then, the words cancer, diagnosis, prognosis and chemotherapy scarcely formed part of our vocabulary; we used them to talk about patients and people we knew of, always one step removed. Since cancer burst in the door and took up a seat in our living room, life has never really been the same. Not worse, not desperate, not awful, just different and more challenging in ways we never imagined it would be.
I am a paediatric registrar. For the months leading up to Jared’s diagnosis, I was caring for children, some as young as a few months of age, who were diagnosed with brain tumours, some curable some very terminal. Most of my evening and night shifts involve one or several trips to the oncology ward, where there are children with cancer undergoing some form of treatment, and suffering the consequences, either of the cancer itself or the treatment targeted at its cure or palliation. Each of these children represents a family unit, whose lives will never quite be the same again. I see in the eyes of the parents what I see in the eyes of Jared’s parents; that life is unfair, that children aren’t supposed to get cancer before their parents do.
The truth is, cancer is all around. Everyone knows someone who is fighting it. My husband, a school friend, my high school teacher, the mother of a close friend, my father’s cousin – all within the past year. Jared’s heart-on-sleeve-style willingness to speak and blog and share his story with whoever will listen has allowed us an amazing insight into the lives of countless people who have fought cancer, some of whom have lived to tell the tale, others of whom have not. Our lives are richer for meeting these people, for connecting with their families. Though you would never wish the experience on anyone, the knowledge that we are not alone in this is strangely comforting.
This blog began as a distraction, a very real way to pass the time as chemotherapy threatened to drive Jared “up the wall”. Over time I have observed its function change; it has become a dynamic, relational tool, where Jared interacts with his online community (with you!), family, friends, colleagues, a global village of people who encourage, challenge, reflect and pray. It is a very tangible reminder to us that though we walk a rugged path we did not choose, we are not alone. And for this we are thankful.
Thank you for listening to Jared. Thank you for being there for us.