What would you do if a stranger told you your son was going to die?
Silas is 10 years old when the headaches start. When the diagnosis arrives, his parents are told they have until Christmas...maybe. And so begins Sarah Pullen's battle to save her son, against doubting doctors and insurmountable odds. This story about love and loss traces her family's journey from that first day at the hospital, battling a tumour they named Bob, through Silas' death and beyond.
This profoundly moving and honest account shows that it is possible to find the strength for a journey that no mother should ever go on; that it is possible to find a new way to live, even when death is knocking on the door. It is about confronting grief - raw, ugly, incomprehensible grief. It is a book about wrapping a small boy in love but still letting him get grubby knees. It is about learning to savour every moment of the here and now, yet also learning to let go.
At its heart, A Mighty Boy is a story of the love between a mother and a son. It is a book about seizing the moment and somehow managing to survive the death of a child. But most of all it is a book about a small, mighty, smiling boy.
I had to sit with my feelings after listening to this book because I experienced much the same story with my son, who also passed away.
This story is real, and raw. There is nothing fluffy about it.
I bought this book because I so badly needed to hear about the experience I had with what happens after the child suffers and dies. It validated all that I felt when I was trying to muddle through life with children who still needed me. And who were also in great pain.
I needed to hear that I wasn't the only one who heard the 'blanket' statements and fumbling words of the well-meaning. That I expected much more than they were capable of saying or doing after my son died instead of having the courage to appreciate that they were doing the best they could do with no knowledge of how to help. How to comfort me when I could not be comforted. All of those things that happen afterward. I am so relieved now, and strangely-comforted.
I can't even find the proper words to convey my thanks and appreciation for this story. (I'm obviously not capable of knowing the right words as I have no knowledge on the 'right' words without sounding like a 'blanket' statement). I forgive myself for that. (Smile)
I haven't yet finished this audiobook so if I feel different by the end I will edit it. But here are my thoughts so far.
The narrator is pleasant to listen to and reads it well.
I was totally with the parents all through the diagnosis, treatment and Silas' sad death. In their corner and on their side.
But then they began rating their sympathy letters. Apparently, if the wording wasn't just right they were 'tossed aside' in anger! So many people had taken the time and trouble to write to these people and express their sympathy, only for their choice of words to be mocked and denigrated.
I understand that at the time they were feeling raw and hurt but I feel that their true feelings about those letters should not have been included in this book. Not everyone writes as eloquently as the author obviously expected them to do. Not everyone had new Silas stories to share which is what she really wanted. Some people just wanted to let the grieving parents know that they were thinking of them.
Their crime was to write letters including sentences such as:
"We are sorry for your loss..."
"lost your son"
"There is nothing I can say and I can't imagine what you are going through!
Why not just talk about the letters they treasured and not mention these? It makes them seem small-minded and ungrateful. I stopped enjoying the book at that point I'm afraid.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This was an incredible book to finish 2017 with. After a number of mediocre reads this year, I laughed and I cried along with Sarah Pullen and her family, as her beautiful, vivacious son, Silas, battled with an aggressive brain tumour. Sadly, after battling 'Bob' for nearly two years, he eventually lost the fight, leaving the family devastated, and struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives.
One thing that struck me in the early chapters was the comment that the survival rate for cancer patients is greatly enhanced by being proactive; by researching and pushing for the newest, most up-to-date treatments available. Sarah fought for her son with everything she had, finding alternative treatments and symbiotic drug combinations, even putting him on a form of cannabis for a while.
She also discusses whether a child should be told that s/he is dying. She now wishes that they had had this conversation with Silas.
Finally, she talks about the reactions of friends and family. Death has become a taboo subject in today's world and people did not know how to react to the family. Some penned letters and cards, others texted, or called in, but those who upset her most were the ones who said and did nothing and behaved as if nothing had happened.
This is a brave book, written from the heart and sympathetically narrated by Antonia Beamish. To quote the author, “It’s about Silas and who he was, his personality, the things that drove us nuts, and what made him laugh and cry – all those things which I don’t want us and the boys to forget." She hopes that it will help other families who must follow a similar path, to support them and direct their questions, while helping them feel less alone.