This is one of the few books that I would ever list as a MUST read, as in “You must read this right now. Drop what you are doing. Order it. Pronto.” It is a difficult journey story to be sure; the work of a mom with her 13-year-old son who has cancer is never going to be an easy read. One of my own dear friends died this month, and as I ponder all the ramifications of death, I find it necessary to recommend Hope Eternal to everyone.
Rebecca tells us the story of her son, Kyle, who was diagnosed with DSRCT cancer. This is the worst news that any parent can hear, and she recounts the days, weeks, and sometimes even minutes of struggle with all of the various treatments that Kyle received. In between, both Rebecca and Kyle grow enormously in their faith, always believing that “God has a plan, and He is in control.”
Raw power is enormously riveting, even when it is acquired at such a high cost, and Kyle was a powerful force for love in this world. Rebecca recounts all of the nurses they met, the doctors, the specialists, and the people with hospice, and all of them were touched by Kyle’s smile, determination, and inner peace even while he was so ill and dying. Kyle was also very, very funny and he brought his own family to a better understanding of the nature of life and death through humor.
I was privileged to know his older sister, Heather. She and I were born on the same day in the same hospital, and attended the same high school. As I got to know her better later in life, I can say that Heather loved her little brother Kyle fiercely, and spent most of her life wrestling with God, who took Kyle way too soon. I was impressed with the story even before I got to read the book about his life, and it is my gift to grieving families to recommend Hope Eternal as a type of catharsis.
Rebecca is a talented storyteller, and though her book was not professionally edited, it is immensely readable and relatable. I understand the need to get the words down, and into people’s hands as though the Holy Spirit himself was waiting for you to hurry up and get it done. Her journals during her time at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan helped Rebecca remember this journey with Kyle and with God. Refreshingly self-effacing and honest in her assessment of her actions and those of the other people who tried to help Kyle, Rebecca notes that her son’s “final days’ goal was to bring the glory of the Lord to all who could hear and witness his love for Jesus.”
I love reading about miracles that happen during, and after someone’s death, and this book does not disappoint. That this cancer happened to a family from my hometown is astonishing and heart-rending, awful and wonderful in that Kyle’s message of hope can live on in the words of his mother, who loved and loves him with all of her heart.