All children have secret places and, many years ago, mine was in the bottom of my wardrobe. There, half-hidden by the dangling clothes, was a large old grocery box. In this box were layers and layers of scrap-paper covered with my untidy handwriting: dozens and dozens of unfinished stories.

When I was a child I loved to write. My imagination was filled with wonderful, exciting stories which always began well but never seemed to get finished. Before one story was completed I’d have a newer and better idea and the first story would be filed away in my secret cardboard box. Perhaps I hoped that I would come back and finish all those tales but I never did.

There were definite themes running through all my writings. Princesses featured prominently as did large families. (I wasn’t a Catholic but I did grow up in the Brady Bunch era.) Oh how I wished I could write captivating tales that would be worthy of a glossy cover and a position in a library, my favourite place. I day dreamed about becoming a real author. What would I call myself? Would I use the name ‘Sue’ or the longer form ‘Susan’. Perhaps a pen-name would be appropriate.

Well, I grew up and somehow I didn’t follow a literary career. I found myself a scientist after studying botany and biochemistry. Although I still enjoyed writing, I no longer thought about becoming an author. I became too busy bringing up that large family I used to dream and write about.

Then in November 1999 our son Thomas died after one day of life. As part of the healing process, I felt the need to put down on paper thoughts and feelings associated with Thomas’ death. I explored different aspects of grief by writing a number of articles which were published in different editions of a homeschooling newsletter. As the number of articles increased I began to think about using them as a basis for a book. For the first time since my childhood, I was toying with the idea of becoming an author. At this stage I had no plans to seek a publisher if the book was actually written. All I really had in mind was writing a book for Thomas. I wanted a book I could put into his memory box, a book that would say “Thomas you are special, we love you and are glad we had you even for that one day.” I also wanted to put into writing a heartfelt thank you to God who brought me back from the brink of despair and restored in me hope for the future.

So one school holiday in 2007, when I had a little time, I sat down and gathered together the few articles I’d already written about Thomas. I made a list of things I wanted to include in the story of our son and I began writing. Gradually a book took shape on my computer. I confided my secret activity to a few friends and they were very encouraging asking if they could read what I had written. Running off copies, on the printer, of my very personal story was at first very frightening. What if my writings were thought to be silly? Would my precious story be pulled apart and criticised? Could I deal with advice and suggestions? Well, all my proof readers were very helpful. They had some good suggestions and were very kind when wording their comments.

As I said, originally I wanted to write Thomas’ story just for him and would have been satisfied with producing one copy as a family story. But it was suggested that I share my experience of losing a baby in a bigger way in order to connect with other parents who might be treading the same sorrowful path we’d already been along. Questions I remember asking in the early days of our grief were: “Will we survive? Will this pain ever grow lighter? Will we ever experience joy again?” Perhaps another parent’s story about coming out the other end of that dark, dark tunnel might have given me hope.

Father James Tierney was a wonderful help to me while I was writing my book. He read all my stories, gave helpful suggestions and most of all was so very encouraging making me feel that my efforts were very worthwhile. Even before the book was quite finished, Father Tierney offered to publish it as a Newman Publication. When Father sent me my very own ISBN I knew I was well on my way to producing a real book.

With the text of the book written, I had to give thought to the cover. It seemed to me that most books have a few complimentary comments from reviewers on the back cover, comments that will encourage prospective readers to buy and read the book. I needed the same for my book. So I approached my faithful proof readers and asked them nicely if they felt able to write a few positive words. Being so kind everyone said they’d give it a go.

My sister Vicky asked me what I’d like her to say.

“Well, how about something along these lines,” I answered: “This book is going straight to the top of the bestsellers’ list. It’s a must-have. If you only buy one book this year make sure it is this one. I read it from cover to cover at one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. Reserve your copy today before they are all sold out.”

“Um,” replied Vicky. “It's true I read it cover to cover in one sitting… I’ll see what I can come up with.”

Of course, what I’d suggested was totally inappropriate and Vicky in her kind and caring way came up with something much more suitable. Have a look at my book to find out just what she said (or visit the Grief, Love and Hope page on this blog).

Now I am the author of a glossy covered book bearing my name. In case you’re wondering, I chose ‘Sue’ over ‘Susan’. If I’d ever managed to finish any of my princess stories I might be a very rich woman by now as princess stories seem to be in vogue. But I am content with my Thomas book, Grief, Love and Hope: the Death of Our Baby Thomas. It won’t be a bestseller and make me any money but I am a rich woman anyway for God gave me a beloved son and through his death, I discovered just how much God loves me and became aware of the many, many blessings He has bestowed on myself and my family.

Please visit my "Grief, Love and Hope" page. I will be posting some of the stories from the book on this blog.
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  1. I can't believe that I never knew about your closet writings, Sue! God works in mysterious ways. And, who would have believed that the shortest lived of all our children would become the most well-known?

    I'm looking forward to seeing what further miracles Thomas works from Heaven:)

  2. Vicky,

    My cardboard box was secret! You weren't supposed to know about it.

    Yes, strange to think that someone who only lived for a day could become well known. But who knows what work our other children will be given to do.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. It's getting difficult keeping up with all my blogs, isn't it?

  3. Thank you, Kim. Good to share with you!


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