It seemed I received this beautiful memoir written by Cynthia Montanaro providentially, as memoirs seem to be my go-to reading material these days. Beyond that, Cynthia writes most pensively and contemplatively, a style I both appreciate and mirror in my own writing, and she specifically ponders her spiritual journey of healing and hope after her son with special needs, Tim, dies suddenly, unexpectedly, and tragically.
While I cannot personally attest to losing a child, I can certainly empathize with the reality of raising children with special, unique needs – one daughter of mine has challenges that are invisible and related more to mental and psychological anguish, while another infant daughter of mine was born with a rare chromosomal anomaly that will mainly affect her medically and physiologically.
It didn’t take long for me to be captivated by Cynthia’s eloquent and succinct writing, and often her simple-yet-profound word choices struck my heart into its own meditative state for further prayer and pondering. To me, that is indicative of a gifted writer, one who is summoned and commissioned by God to share the gifts He has bestowed upon her; Cynthia truly showers the reader with her beautiful gift of storytelling and love in such a manner that the reader almost feels as if s/he knows Cynthia personally and intimately in a beautiful exchange of friendship.
Perhaps that is why this book touched my soul so deeply, because it left a mark of spiritual camaraderie, both indelible and personal. While the memoir is written in the style of a retrospective diary and chapters divided by months, each entry can be read both independently as well as part of a link to the greater story of Tim, an unpretentious and charming boy who never outgrew his childlike heart.
If Cynthia is attempting for us to both know and love her son, Tim, then she certainly succeeded. Her memories of the present are peppered with relevant stories of Tim’s adventurous spirit and quirky sayings, but often accompanied with a beautiful reflection of his soul in the way he innocently and often spoke of the spiritual realm. I was left in the end with an endearing love for this boy who left the earth at such a tender, young age; even so, Cynthia convinces the reader that Tim has joined the ranks of heaven as a child saint, and so I found myself spontaneously asking for his intercession for my darling Felicity who shares a birthday with Tim.
While specifically and richly Catholic in her expression and love of redemptive suffering, this book is universal in the sense that anyone – young or old, a mother or grandparent – can find a sense of truth, beauty and wonder in its pages. I truly feel as if Cynthia has gifted me with a segment of her own spirituality and her heart, which is the truest form of authenticity in the Christian life. In essence, one could even say that her book is a form of the spiritual work of mercy, “counsel the doubtful” or “comfort the afflicted,” because any grieving person, I am certain, can find strength and encouragement in the hope she carried throughout every loss in her life.
Cynthia blogs here to continue the story of her life, journey, and memories of Tim.
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Copyright 2014, Jeannie Ewing