One of my fears, as a parent, is dying while my daughter is young. My husband is a fantastic father, but I don’t want him to parent alone. Therefore, I drive safer because of her. I eat healthier because of her. I exercise when I don’t want to because of her. I do this because I want to be around to meet her children and even her grandchildren.
I received a review copy of Missing Mommy: A Book About Bereavement by Rebecca Cobb this evening. I opened it and immediately teared-up. My husband saw the book at the same time as I did and he thought it was probably about a kid who got lost in a shopping mall. No, I told him. This is going to be a book about death. I paged through and quickly saw I was correct. I decided I would have to read the book later — alone in my office.
This evening, after I kissed my sweet Isabelle good night, I changed into pajamas, folded laundry, and came downstairs to find Missing Mommy. I took it into my office, read the dust jacket, and braced myself. By the time I finished the first page spread, which depicts a young boy in his father’s arms, under an umbrella, at a funeral, I was crying. In fact, I cried the entire way through the book since it is written with such incredible voice. The narrator is the young boy who lost his mother. He wonders where she has gone. He tried looking for her, but cannot find her despite the fact her clothes still hang in the closet. He goes to the cemetery to visit her grave with his father and sister and wonders why she doesn’t take the flowers they keep bringing. He is scared and angry that she won’t return. Eventually his father helps him understand that his mommy’s body didn’t work anymore and therefore she couldn’t go on living. But, over time, he realizes that there are still people around him who love and care about him. And even though he cannot see his mother in person any more, he can still remember her by looking at pictures and talking about her. Nothing will bring her back, but he realizes that she was special to him and he was special to her.
Years ago, during my second year of teaching, one of my students lost her mother to cancer. She struggled with the loss all year. (Who wouldn’t?) I struggled to find the right words to share with her on the tough days. I wish Missing Mommy was around back then because I would have sat by her side and read it with her (and cried). The book’s message is so real and so profound. I imagine any elementary school teacher would want to have this book in his/her classroom if they someday have to help a student cope with the loss of a parent. It’s the book you hope you’ll never have to pull out. But, if the need arises, you’ll be glad it’s on your bookshelf.