Cynthia Montanaro’s exquisite book Diary of a Country Mother: A Year Remembering Tim chronicles the year following the death of her teenage son who took his own life. Although the grief of this great loss is woven through the pages, it is not a book of sadness. It is a brave and beautiful celebration of life.
Anchored in the rhythm of the liturgical seasons, Cynthia recalls with joy the little moments of Tim’s short life: his adoption into their home, his love for his family, his vibrant joy. Despite the struggle of raising a child who suffered from mental illness and the pain and grief of losing him so young, this journal celebrates God’s gifts and his grace. It reminds me of St. Therese of Lisieux’s words “tout est grace” or “all is grace.”
Diary of a Country Mother also reminds me of Mary Lenaburg’s blog Passionate Perseverance. Mary cares for a daughter with special needs who is in her last days on this earth. The work is difficult. The pain is real. But it’s not exhaustion or pain that hit me when I see the beautiful photos Mary takes of her daughter–it’s love. The most beautiful Christ-like love. Love that has hands and feet and serves. Love that is full of joy as it delights in the beloved.
Cynthia’s book is full of joy. Each entry feels like an intimate conversation with a dear friend with a steaming hot cup of tea, but the conversation isn’t light–it digs into the stuff of life with deep wisdom. And even the grief of loss is wrapped in the peace of God’s love.
Yes, there is tragedy in Tim’s death–the nightmare every parents fears. But the suffering that comes from his loss is overshadowed by the love Cynthia carries for him.
Diary of a Country Mother is honest and deeply authentic, but it’s a book about hope. Hope in Christ who never fails. Hope in life eternal. Hope in the promise of the Gospel.
This book stands defiantly in the face of our culture of death. It sings of a God who creates life and who holds every life as valuable and worthy of love and dignity. Cynthia cherishes Tim in her memories just as she cherished him in life. I’m glad that she has shared him with all of us.
I’ve dog-eared so many pages–especially the beautiful quotes from the saints that Cynthia weaves into Diary of a Country Mother. This isn’t a book just for those who have suffered a great loss, like the loss of a child, it’s for all of us who need to be reminded of the beauty and wonder of life and the God that walks with us into our sorrow.
“Life is short. Eternity is forever. Love now!”-Diary of a Country Mother
Cynthia graciously offered one copy of her beautiful book to a Carrots reader. Leave a comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway. Only for U.S. readers, please (due to shipping costs). Giveaway ends at midnight EST November 16th!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Roman Catholic Books. The review copy and giveaway copy were complimentary.