Those who know me well will know that I love reading and tend to buy more books than I have time to read. On the 7th April 2016 Mark Myers published his account of a two year journey ‘through the wilderness of no‘.
On the 9th April 2014, the youngest of Mark’s daughters, Kylie, aged 12, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. She had always been known as Smiley Kylie. Kylie fought her illness bravely for ten months. On February 13th, 2015, Kylie’s battered body succumbed to the disease. She left her family with two missions; take care of her kitten and kill childhood cancer so that no other child has to die.
Our daughter was also a cat lover, but sadly her beloved cat Charlie died on the road while Leah was having her treatment at Bristol Children’s Hospital. Apparently Charlie missed Leah terribly while she was in hospital, as he was so used to receiving lots of cuddles from her.
Mark’s blog came to my attention just before Easter this year when I read his blog post The Empty Grave Conundrum. I wept profusely as I read, identifying with almost every word.
I tried to resist the temptation to buy his book Missing Kylie: A Father’s Search for Meaning in Tragedy as soon as it was released, as I have so many unread books adorning my shelves. I succumbed on the 12th April and I read it over two days.
This is one father’s account of his two year journey from the day that Kylie received her diagnosis up to the first anniversary of her death. Kylie’s response to her diagnosis was similar to Leah’s; Kylie said “God must have a really big, great plan for me.” Leah lived nine months from her diagnosis, ‘Smiley Kylie’ lived ten months. Just like Leah, the primary cause of death cited on Kylie’s death certificate is respiratory failure.
Mark has three main aims with his book:
1) To share the story of his beautiful brave daughter Smiley Kylie with a wider audience.
2) To share his ‘messy faith’ with hurting people in a genuine and authentic manner.
3) To raise money and awareness for safer and more effective treatments for childhood cancer.
Mark achieves all these aims and more besides. This is a very readable book that I could not put down. I read it over two days. Mark is honest and genuine without giving unnecessary medical details that could make it difficult reading for those who are a bit squeamish. The love within this family of six is so evident.
I especially loved reading the letters that each family member wrote to Kylie on the first anniversary of her death. Mark concludes the book with three short chapters that contain guidelines for how to support a family who are dealing with a difficult diagnosis or life-threatening illness. One of these is entitled ‘What to say when there is nothing to say.’
I highly recommend this book.