by Kath Henry, Gloucester/Sydney
As featured in the 2018 Country Web Annual.
I have heard people say; ‘If someone told me a number years ago that I would … (fill in the blank with your own unexpected life experience) … I would have told them they were out of their mind’.
Well, I have said those words, related to the unexpected life experience of writing a book. The book, called SAM, is about my mother’s heartfelt experience of raising a son with a rare chronic illness. The book has been published and is now on Kindle after selling more than 500 copies. SAM has been read by people in the USA, UK, and Sweden. It has even reached unexpected places, like Cambodia.
I am not wanting to retell the content of the book here, instead I am hoping that by hearing a little of what the process meant for me, it may inspire others to write and publish.
It has been humbling and inspiring to realise how one life story shared can give courage to other people, those we know and those we may never meet. There is something about the written word holding another’s life story that is precious.
People have held my heartfelt words in their hands, they have read and reread them. Some people have emailed me and I have met with others as they have cried and shared the connection they found with their own life. Those points of connection have been as real as finding a hand to hold in the dark, a moment where another mother discovered they were not as alone as they once thought.
The other surprising gift that writing SAM has given my family has been the chance to process our own journey together. Reading over some of the events that felt really big in our memories and letting them take their place in the longer view of our life journey as a family has brought us closer. It was precious to write a chapter and send it to my daughter overseas and my son and husband upstairs. I would talk with my daughter over the phone and my men would descend the stairs to cry and hug and remember together.
The publication of the book and the kind publicity that followed has opened up so many unexpected doors. One of the most meaningful opportunities that has developed has been meeting with other writers—I have had the privilege of listening to some amazing life stories, sharing ideas on writing and publishing.
The distance between us in this vast Australian landscape is reduced when hearts and lives are connected through our stories. I hope to meet with more women via Skype who are finding words to tell their story. I am no expert, but I believe if I can write a book so can others, and if I can help, then I would like to. After all, in the end we all have a story to tell.
‘In SAM, Kath Henry tells her family’s story of the path to discovery that their son Sam has severe neutropenia, a blood condition that leads to recurrent and sometimes even fatal infections. For her family, like for many others, discovering that your child, who at first appeared totally healthy, has a serious health problem is a major, life-changing event.SAM reveals the vigour of a mother pursuing her son’s diagnosis, the feeling of a boy in tears asking, ‘Why has God given me neutropenia?’, and the Henry family’s path to helping others afflicted by chronic diseases.’ DAVID C. DALE M.D.
SAM is available at amazon.com.au Search for ‘Kathryn Henry’ (as the author). If you would like to contact me, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org