I approached this book with apprehension and not a little anxiety. I am a woman who avoids painful things. I don’t watch Hallmark movies. I rarely watch the news. I don’t read books about tragic love stories (I loathed Romeo and Juliet), and I leave the room when the sad puppies in their lonely kennels pop up on my television screen. It’s not putting my head in the sand, Friends. It’s just that I have learned that my heart sees these painful images and carries them around like a lead weight. So I limit what I take in.
Therefore, when I read the back cover of where i end, I thought, “Oh no. This is going to hurt. I don’t know if I can go there. I don’t know if can step into this woman’s story.” But at the top of the book, above the title, it says, “A Story of Tragedy, Truth, and Rebellious Hope.” Sigh. Rebellious Hope. Now I was curious. I had never heard hope described as rebellious. And so, I decided to read the first few pages. I told myself that I could take it a little at a time. Perfect plan, right?
Except that I finished it in just under two days.
On a Friday afternoon, Katherine Clark heads down to her son’s school to read to his class, something that she did on a regular basis. After story time, Katherine decides to head out to the playground to play a game of tag with her son and his classmates. As she was chasing and being chased, one student decided that the jungle gym looked more appealing. As Katherine was running by said jungle gym, the boy jumped. He landed feet first…onto her head…breaking her neck, paralyzing her from the neck down. Katherine takes us with her into the aftermath of this horrible day. From the Emergency Room, to recovering from emergency surgery, to the realization that she couldn’t feed herself, care for herself, hug her son or brush her daughter’s hair. She gives us glimpses into rehabilitation, her therapists and nursing staff, her discouragement and vulnerability, as well as excerpts from messages shared to friends and family on her online Care Page.
I cried through every chapter. Ask my mama. I don’t cry very easily.
But as I’m looking at my book as it sits next to my laptop, I am struck by how beat up it looks in the short time I have owned it. The cover is permanently creased. I have so many pages dog-eared that it doesn’t close correctly now. Little post-it notes stick out of the top, marking things that I need to re-read and write down. Inside are highlights, notes, arrows. Katherine shares her incredible trust in the Lord, her hope in His will, His healing power, His grace, His presence, His friendship, His strength. She reminds the reader to embrace grief, to drop the walls, to accept what hurts and what needs healing…but to have a white-knuckle-hold onto Jesus.
My heart needed this book. It is a treasure to me, now. One of those rare books that never sits on a bookshelf, because you need it near you at all times.
“Lord have mercy. Thee I adore. Into they hands.”
Bottom Line: Dear Katherine Clark. Thank you. So very much.
**A big thank you to Moody Publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book!