Despite the pile of books on my end table to read,
I requested Cynthia Ruchti’s newest book, Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices for review. Why? Because I gravitate towards anything with the word “Hope” in it and any book by Cynthia Ruchti.
HOPE was the word I’d chosen to concentrate on at the beginning of this year. Hope is what I hang onto today, sixteen months after the death of my husband, and in the midst of watching my eight-year-old grandson die.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
A year ago, still reeling with the loss of my best friend, I could not even imagine what God had in store for me. I had an agent but no book contract, for a book that my husband had encouraged me to write back in July of 2009. Today is the official release date of that book, Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America’s Extreme Obsession. (Familius) Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage, a book I had written in 2006/2007 and had abandoned in a file cabinet, will be released in April 2014. And Refined By Fire: A Walk in Grief is slated for publication in the fall of 2014. If God can do all that then it is no wonder I still cling to hope these days.
But that hope and joy in the triumphs of the book world are all wrapped up in a dust jacket of sadness in light of my eight-year-old grandson’s obvious decline.
Working on Refined By Fire right now has been cathartic for me. Chronicling the clear path of grief I followed in the last sixteen months, I maintain hope for the path my daughter and son-in-law will soon trek down.
Knowing that his grandfather waits there for him helps me in the saying good-bye. Truly believing that Jacob will be going home softens the blow of impending loss.
Still, some days~most days~my hope feels more like that in the book of Job;
Job 17:15 – where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?
That is why Ruchti’s title, Ragged Hope appealed to me.
Unlike the true stories in Ruchti’s book, I’m not living with the fallout of other people’s bad choices. David did not choose to leave me. Jacob did not choose cancer. But oh, how ragged and worn thin my hope feels in the darkness of the night. Those are the moments I fall down to my knees and feel closest to God.
Ruchti’s book did not disappoint. (I don’t think she could disappoint. Her writing comes from deep within a loving heart) “To the wounded, the worn, the wondering. And to those who let us see their scars so others can discover Hope’s hideout,” Ruchti writes in her dedication.
I am wounded. (I lost my mother and my husband in the space of sixteen months. I am losing my grandson sixteen months later)
I am worn. (I never wanted to be a single mom. I don’t like making parenting decisions all alone. I am so tired of grief.)
I wonder. (Why would God allow cancer in a little boy?)
I am scarred.
But I continue to hang onto HOPE. Hope means I believe there is a reason for everything, even a little boy living, and dying, with cancer. The Facebook page we set up more than two years ago chronicles Jacob’s journey. Thousands of people have been following Jacob in his journey. One day in early July I checked the statistics for the “Jacob’s Ladder” page and noted that more than 15,000 people had looked at his page.
As an author struggling to build my audience, I have repeatedly pleaded with friends, family and “fans” (and I use that term loosely) to “Like” my Author Page on Facebook. I have managed to acquire a bit of a following, but not even a small percentage of the following that our precious Jacob had on the day the hospice team informed his parents he didn’t have long to live.
15,000 people, viewing a little boy’s journey, and nearly that many prayers lifted to the heavens for healing, comfort, and strength.
An eight-year-old boy with eyes that speak volumes and a kind heart that speaks for all of us, is dying. And just like Ruchti details in the examples of her book, there is “grace in every situation, even in those we did not cause but now live.” There is grace in this. There is HOPE.