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!