It is now October 2015.
Seven years ago this month my big sister, Sarah, lost her life and left behind two beautiful children. Losing her changed everything.
Personally, I struggled with this very much (“very much” being an understatement). There were so many aspects of the experience that were extremely hard to handle and totally threw me for six. Since then I have wanted to help support, protect, and comfort the kids my sister left behind, but I have been in no position to do so. As I type this I am living seven thousand miles away from them with no imminent hope of affording even a visit back home.
In 2013 I started and finished writing a story. It all came in a wave of inspiration. I sobbed while I wrote it, I sob when I talk about it, I sob when I think about it. My greatest ambition is for this story to be illustrated, published, and both available for sale and distributed for free.
Let me explain:
When my sister was in the accident, she died at the scene but was resuscitated and on life support for ten days. Her children were taken to a separate hospital and were treated for minor injuries. They were two-and-a-half years old, and two months old, respectively. They were then cared for by friends for a few days until my sister’s partner was able to leave my sister’s side and take them home. Once this happened, all the children really knew was that their mother wasn’t there anymore.
At the hospital when we were all going through this ordeal, they didn’t give us any materials to help explain anything to the kids. I don’t even know if there is a program in existence that does this. So when I wrote the story, I had this in mind. How do you explain to young kids what has happened to their parent? Transcending the parent/child relationship, how do you explain loss to children?
Without wanting to delve into any religious or afterlife type of detail, the story that came into my head was one of conveying the understanding that our loved ones never really leave us if we keep their memories, words, and lessons alive.
In the story, the main character is named after my niece, Ezri. Ezri bunny is a curious little bunny who loves to explore and ask questions. She gets a baby brother, Lucian (named after my nephew) and is so excited, but her excitement turns to disappointment when she realises he’s too young to play ‘pretend’ with her. She then decides to show him her favourite things.
As Ezri shows her baby brother her favourite things, she is keen to tell him all about them: The flowers, the lake, and the beautiful sunset. But she soon realises she doesn’t have all the knowledge to explain them the way she wants to. With Mama Bunny by her side, she asks questions about them and her mama gives her explanations she doesn’t fully understand…
Ezri was still curious. “But Mama, why does it make the sky so pretty before it goes away?”
Mama Bunny thought again about what to say. Then she spoke tenderly, “Ezri, my little love bug, it is teaching us a lesson. As the sun sets, it gives us a beautiful show that will never be repeated. But it won’t wait for us to come and see it, it will carry on as it does. We have to choose to see it if we really want to enjoy it, because if we don’t pay attention, we’ll miss it. But if we do pay attention, I mean really pay attention and take in all it has to show us, we will have a wonderful memory of that amazing display of light, to carry us through even the darkest of nights. The sunset will fade away, but our memory of it, the imprint it leaves in our hearts, is what will keep it alive in us. And that memory can never be taken away for as long as we live.”
…until the day Mama Bunny is suddenly not there anymore.
Ezri is confused, and goes to find her mama.
Ezri went outside. “Maybe,” she thought, “I can find her.” She went to the meadow to see if Mama Bunny had got lost there picking flowers. She could see some of the flowers losing their petals as the wind blew. She found a fluffy white one she was sure had been yellow before. As she touched it, some of the white fluff sailed away in the breeze. It was so beautiful to watch, she blew on it and sent the rest of the fluff dancing on her breath. As she looked around, she noticed all the yellow flowers had turned white and fluffy. She ran and jumped through the meadow and watched all the bits of fluff dance around her. She stopped for a moment. “Mama?” she called.
But Mama Bunny wasn’t there.
Ezri thought about what her mama had told her about the flowers. The flowers were now going away, but she guessed the white fluff was on its way to making new flowers. “Goodbye,” she said to them, “see you again soon!”
As she visits each of her favourite places, looking for Mama Bunny, she gains a better understanding of her mama’s words. Beginnings and endings, peace and reflection, culminating in the ultimate understanding of her mama’s “Most Important Lesson.”
What I need:
Editing: I need help to make this a reality. I have all the words typed and edited to the best of my ability, but I need it to go to the next step.
Illustrations: I am artistic, but I am not an illustrator. I would like help in this area. Someone who knows how to illustrate and can understand my vision for this and where I want it to go.
My poor attempt:
Publishing: I need a publisher to hear me and want to work with me.
Promotion: This project is designed to be available for sale for anyone who wants it. I also see it being included in a package distributed at hospitals and hospices (et cetera) and by Social Services as an illustrated story to read to the kids affected.
Others: I can see quotes from this and the corresponding artwork sold as merchandise of all sorts, with portions of the proceeds going to either a new or existing charity that focuses on comfort for children who have lost parents.
I can see a short cartoon made from this story available to view for free on YouTube.
I want to tour and read this story wherever it’s welcomed.
I don’t have anything in the way of money or resources to give. I am just me, not rich in the slightest.
Ideally part of completing this project would allow me to visit my home (America) for the first time in over five years, to see my niece and nephew and give them an illustrated, printed first copy of the book, and read it to them in person.
Feedback So Far:
Everyone who has read the story so far has loved it and has passionately told me I need to publish it. This, I feel, is my greatest purpose thus far. My gift to the world.
What’s Been Stopping Me:
Fear. Of applications, rejection, failure, you name it. I have had extreme artistic block when trying to do the illustrations myself, and have been unable to complete them.
I don’t know how publishing works. I am not an expert. I don’t feel I know how to do this alone.
Can you help?
Email me @: talkingthisandthatblog.gmail.com
Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Please share this everywhere. Somehow, some way, the right person will see it and get in touch with me.
Copyright notice: All quotes and ideas expressed here are the sole intellectual property of Kirsten Young. Copying of any portion of the above without permission is strictly prohibited.