Cathy and Frank James experienced every parent's nightmare when they lost their 17- year-old daughter Valerie in a car accident. Through a series of stories and thoughts, this book shares the life of Valerie, a vivacious teenager whose faith and positive outlook on life encouraged everyone around her. Valerie's parents focus on the ways God worked throughout her life, from the months just before she was born to certain occurrences after her death that gave her parents some peace.
After her death, many things came about to let Valerie's family know that certain things were meant to be--though certainly this knowledge didn't, as Frank notes, make it easier. However, God worked to help a chapel be built at the FFA camp where Valerie spent so much time, and this was an endeavor that seemed to help the family get through rough times.
One of the many good aspects of this book is that Valerie's father shares his thoughts as well. As the authors note, there are not as many books for grieving fathers as there are for grieving mothers, so including Frank James' point of view definitely adds to this book. Men will appreciate his perspective, and women will get a better sense of how men grieve in different ways than women. Cathy James offers ideas on how to cope with the day-to-day aftermath of personal tragedy, from visiting the cemetery to handling baby showers and weddings.
You will be moved by this book, and you will be encouraged as well--encouraged by Valerie's love for God and others, and encouraged by the strength, faith, and hope that Cathy and Frank have despite their greatest loss.
I couldn't read it all at once. I had to take it in small doses. Just holding it in my hand made me want to cry and I was a bit apprehensive and that was largely due in part to the fact that I already knew so much of their story, but as I began to read and remember, I was drawn in by it all. I think what was most impactive for me was Frank's viewpoint and how a father in particular "postpones" his grief, being the rock of the family because of role expectations when in truth a father is just as much, if not more, devastated. I knew they would put into words my own feelings, emotions, pain and suffering that I experienced from the loss of my own daughter. It was like I could mouth each word they wrote in telling of my own personal agony. Grief is an individual experience, yet there are many aspects of it that those who have had the misfortune of losing a child, can relate to. This book is poignant, bittersweet and honest in baring the souls of two loving parents. God works in mysterious ways.