Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 1:33 pm
By Vy Armour Special to AFN for direct link click here.
Holidays can be a difficult time for families who have recently lost loved ones. In “Waiting for Heaven,” an Ahwatukee resident, Heather Gillis, reaches out to parents everywhere who have lost a child and are struggling to find peace within the midst of their pain. As the book jacket says, “Life can sometimes lead us to unexpected places, only to leave us broken, desperate and hurting.” Gillis tells of her personal struggle when her baby son, Bowen, died 13 days after birth of a fatal kidney disease, autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD).
Although Heather and her husband, Mac, had no history of kidney disease, they discovered after Bowen’s birth that they had the mutation on their chromosomes, making them both carriers of the disease. One in 20,000 babies is diagnosed with ARPKD and they had a 4-in-1 chance of having a child with it. Fortunately, their first two children, Brooklyn and Blake, were not affected. Unfortunately, they were totally unprepared for Bowen’s diagnosis, with healthy ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy. Gillis’ story would be an inspiration to other parents who search for a way to explain the death of a sibling, including a list of books to read to toddlers.
In addition to her encouraging personal story of faith, hope and renewal, there are many resources listed — books, blogs and websites. Gillis created www.bowenshope.com to help spread hope to other families with ARPKD. Adult onset of this kidney disease is termed PKD and affects 1 in 500 adults, typically diagnosed in the early 40s. Her book can be purchased through her website at $1.99 or Amazon (price varies) and proceeds go toward helping children on dialysis.
Although a sensitive issue, “Waiting for Heaven” could be a beautiful gift to those struggling to find answers to their loss. Gillis shares honestly the painful grieving process she and Mac went through, yet there are nuggets of wisdom. For example, “Through this experience I have learned where the answers will never be found. The answer will never be found in anger and any desperate search for an answer will leave one only weak, empty-handed, and more angry.” Gillis finds beauty in the midst of pain through her faith.
The book covers the time period from the day of Bowen’s birth (April 7, 2011) through the spring of 2013 when Gillis, as part of her healing process, began training for the Boston Marathon. Shortly after she crossed the finish line and was looking for her family, she heard a loud sound that she thought was thunder, but in fact was a bomb. What she experienced that day, as well as meeting many of the Sandy Hook families who lost children, gave Gillis a higher awareness of the price of freedom in our country, as well as a greater appreciation for the gift of life, regardless of what we have had to endure. Like ripples in a pond, she takes her personal loss and expands it into a universal message of hope and renewal for all.
• Former bookstore owner Vy Armour has been a resident of Ahwatukee Foothills for more than 20 years. She reviews books on her blog, http://serendipity-reflections.blogspot.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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