Billy Light's mother was dying. He knew this and he knew that he and his wife Lynn would soon have to explain this to their young children. She had breast cancer and had been ill for many years, already spending more time in the hospital than out. Then without warning, his wife's mother passed away within three months of her lymphoma diagnosis. Then Billy's mom passed away a few months later, and it left both Billy and Lynn bereft — and their two children, Lindsey and Andrew, then aged 7 and 5, without grandmothers. How do you explain this kind of loss to a child when it is so difficult for even adults to understand?
At the time, Lynn read every book she could find on death and dying to better come to grips with the sudden loss of her mother, but there weren't any books like that for children — so Billy decided to write one. Aided by young Lindsey's illustrations, "Grandmas Never Leave Us," the story about the undying love of a grandmother, was born.
A few years and many readings later, the story was safely tucked into a dresser drawer where it sat for 20 years. It was then that Lindsey (now in her 20s) and her then-fiancé surprised her dad with a self-published hard-cover edition of their story. From that moment "Grandmas Never Leave Us" took on a life of its own.
I recently had the pleasure of talking with author Billy Light about this touching story that helped his own family to heal and that he hopes can help others as well.
Mother Nature Network: Do you think "Grandmas Never Leave Us" helped your children deal with the loss of their grandmothers?
Billy Light: Yes, definitely. My daughter and I talked about it as we were writing the story, so it was a good bonding experience for us and it really helped her understand what was happening. My son was quite young at the time, but it was interesting because just recently when we decided to publish the book and began working on getting the story out there my son — who is 28 now — started asking a lot of questions about his grandmothers, too. So it's like the story came full circle.
How did you feel when your daughter gave you the published copy of the book?
My daughter and her fiancé (now my son-in-law) gave it to me on my birthday and I was shocked. I was not expecting it at all. There it was ... our story. And everyone who read it told me that I just had to do something with it to get the story out there.
Do you think "Grandmas Never Leave Us" can help other families get through this kind of loss?
I have heard from so many kind folks who have told me that this story touched them in some way. I think it helps kids who have experienced a loss because they realize that the person that they lost is in a better place and it makes them smile to remember them they way they used to be. The story brings out happy tears.
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"Grandmas Never Leave Us" is an inspirational story about family, faith, healing and undying love. Check out the GrandmasNeverLeaveUs.com website and Facebook page to learn more about this poignant story and the genuinely caring people behind it.