As I write this, tears are falling down my face and forming splash patterns on my keyboard. I take a moment to figure out if these are happy tears or sad ones, and I decide they are neither. These are tears formed out of pure admiration. And if You Can’t is the prayer of every parent who has had to say goodbye too soon. It is the hope for each child lost and the promise of every broken heart left beating this side of heaven. Author Sydney Hatcher wrote this book for her daughter Carmen and takes us on a beautiful journey filled with grief, joy, grace, hope, and love and shared with us the sweet message that true love never dies. The illustrations by Bella Bartlett and Sydney Hatcher are beautiful and clean, creating a feeling of peace and calm. This is the first book that I have reviewed that I have not yet shared with my children. Firstly, even though this is obviously a children’s book, and can be used to teach children about healthy grief, during my initial read, I felt that this book spoke more to parents who have lost children than to children themselves. And secondly, I wanted to gift my copy to a dear friend and fellow loss mama and I didn’t want to risk my littles getting their fingerprints all over the book.
A parent urges their child to do all that they can. To run, to leap, to see, to breathe, to be, and to stay. But in the midst of unimaginable grief, the parent must do all that she can for the child she lost.
“Leap, my love! Leap over the water that pools into puddles along the path. And if you can’t, I’ll leap for you.”
And if You Can’t, tells the story of those left behind. It is a look through the thick veil of sorrow to the cry of every parent whose arms ache to hold their child once more, and yet their heart soars with the hope that their loved one is safe in the arms of God.
Why I love it
1. An undeniable love story
The love that flows between parent and child is pure. So pure that parents will face the greatest grief with courage and grace knowing that their loved ones are in a better place. It is easy to want our babies to stay with us, but how great is the love that can forgo their own desires and love the child they had to say goodbye to. To love a child who isn’t in your arms is the truest form of love and this book is a testimony to the incredible strength of any parent who has had to say goodbye to a child who they once held in their arms.
“And if you can’t, don’t wait for me.”
2. A beautiful promise
“And if you can’t I’ll breathe for you.”
The author makes a promise to her child that she will continue to live life for her. She will do the hard work of living and loving and healing for her child. She will not take for granted any of the blessings given to her in this life and honor her child’s memory by living life to the best of her ability. Life after loss can look very dark, but the author offers an alternative perspective. That of a parent who will do all the things her child didn’t get to. And in so doing, embrace life to the fullest.
3. Gifting potential
This book is a perfect gift for anyone who has experienced the loss of a child. I have already decided to include this book in my Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month care packages in October. And I am excited to share my copy with a friend. It can be difficult to know what to say when a family experiences the loss of a child, everything feels so inadequate. This book is a perfect gift. It acknowledges the grief that exists while allowing parents a glimpse at the beauty of heaven and the love and joy that their loved one is experiencing.
4. Purposeful pain
What do loss parents do with the pain of losing a child? We can bury it, become bitter and consumed by it or we can use it to fuel us daily. We can surrender the pain to the One who can truly comfort us, and look to Him daily for the source of our strength. That is exactly what Sydney did. Using the lessons, she learned from the loss of her daughter Carmen, she offers the reader a glimpse into her own grief journey. A journey that has brought her to the place filled with grace and hope. While reading the book, I felt a rush of admiration for the author and gratitude that she took the time to share her story with us.
“I’ll be reaching up to the heavens, day and night until I hold you again.”
5. A look at grief
“And if you can’t, it’s okay…my love will reach you anyway.”
Grief can be complex and can look different for everyone. But grief is also present in love. Without love, there would be no grief as grief is an expression of love. Writing two years after her loss, Sydney has beautifully expressed her grief and love in her book. She tells the story of someone who has reached a place of acceptance. Of one who realizes that love is never lost but rather, it remains and it can be powerful.
If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, I urge you to consider adding this book to your reading material. It is okay if you are still in the midst of grief, I truly believe that you will still benefit from this book. I also recommend reading this book with children who are experiencing the loss of a sibling or loved one.
And if You Can’t is available on Amazon.com