There Is A Reaper: Losing a Child to Cancer
SILVER MEDAL WINNER - 2016 Readers Favorite International Book Awards - Memoir
MEDALIST - 2015 New Apple Book Awards for Best Memoir
WINNER of the 2015 TISBA Award
FINALIST Independent Author Network 2015 BOOK of the YEAR
FINALIST Beverly Hills Book Awards 2015
"...it gave me chills...made me weep" JoeS #amazon
"...you will need a box of tissues!" BMQ #goodreads
"...I laughed and cried out loud..." Arlene P #amazon
FIVE-YEAR-OLD CHRISTOPHER AARON has always been a whirlwind of heroic action, leading his brothers into all sorts of youthful mischief. A mysterious illness suddenly plunges him and his family into a frightening nightmare of hospitals and doctors and extreme therapies far from his small-town home. Can his doctors diagnose his strange disease? How will he and his family adapt to a bizarrenew world they have been thrust into?
Heart-wrenching, searing, and powerful, There is a Reaper immerses the reader into Christopher's intense struggle against his pitiless foe as he matures and transforms in the white heat of his epic battle.
Meet the Author:
Best Book Bit:
MEMORIES LIE. Not in a bad way, but they do. We live our separate
lives, recording our own stories from our own viewpoint.
The overlapping of all of these phantoms collectively
creates “reality,” but the eternal bright sword of the present moment is all
that we ever have.
My memories, real and complete though they seem to me, are flawed
lies, blurred by my own perspective, softened by time and contaminated
by what makes them what I want them to be.
Here’s a good one.
Back when they were small, all three of our boys shared one large
room. The house, undersized for our growing brood yet all we could afford,
called for shared accommodations.
Ian, the senior resident, aged five, had his own full-size single bed,
which I had made by hand, low and sturdy and strong —captain’s quarters.
Devon, though grown-up enough not to, slept in an ancient wooden
bassinet, a large wicker basket with wheeled folding legs, for reasons both
of safety and the absence of alternate lodging.
The bassinet, a family heirloom, had been purchased and used by Margaret’s mother Virginia for all
three of her own children. It was cunningly
built and indestructible; we have it still.
Christopher slept in the crib (he was approaching two and a half), and
was very active, with long straight dark hair framing his flashing eyes. The
crib was about twice the size (mattress-wise), of the bassinet, though not
quite as large as Ian’s bed, and was again of vintage Jersey City stock (Virginia
bought to last). Its squeaky wooden sides could be lowered or raised;
barred white gates corralling the occupant, chin high to the upright, tippytoed-
toddler, and it was escape-proof (so we thought).
Bedtime, for our sanity, was early. We tried to keep them to a schedule,
and as none were actually in school—Ian would start kindergarten that
fall—there was not much in the way of homework or after-dinner activities.
So on a bright early summer evening, exhausted parents would call
for bedtime at 7:00 p.m. The light would last for another two hours, but
we had had it and they and we needed the rest.
Then came the lament, and we would move them along—bottle for
one, diaper for two, three faces washed and teeth brushed. Jammies might
be worn or not, depending on the temperature, and in any case Chris never
wanted anything on his legs; a T-shirt and diaper were all he needed to feel
completely comfortable in any situation.
Devon went down easily: a small bottle, a snuggle, and a kiss, and he
Ian was the old man, and he resented having a bedtime the same as the
“babies,’” but I would buy his cooperation with the promise of a story, his
choice, and he would run to get the current favorite.
Chris would (was born to) resist. He wanted nothing to do with bedtime.
But we would wrestle him in at last, persuading through stern routine
and backed by mass as necessary (he was a solid package and fast on his
Usually, though, he wanted to hear the story as well, and between Margaret
and me we would get them all in. On a warm evening this might occupy
us for the better part of twenty minutes, but at last the book would
Just thinking of it now makes me smile. I would sit in the center of
the room. I had my folding canvas director’s chair, and I would bring it in
and take the book and command silence and begin.
Whatever story we read would weave its spell, and they would listen
and I start to yawn, putting myself to sleep even as they began to drop off.
After a half hour or so they would all be asleep, and I would dim the light
and leave the room. . . still evening, still light, peaceful and quiet, the end
of the day.
Or so it might seem.
Downstairs Margaret and I would sit, watch TV, or read, or just look
out at the summer evening as the day came to a close, and above peace
would reign—for about five minutes.
Slowly at first (then quicker as necessary), Christopher would rouse
himself from his feigned sleep. He would stand up in his elevated wooden
divan and survey the situation. The story was over, and Dad was gone, and
being good was for other, lesser beings. There was still fun to be had! And
the night was young.
Through practice and innate cunning, he had perfected an ability to
move quietly. It was not in his nature, but he could be very patient when
it served his purpose. And toys, far more interesting than his soft mattress
or pillow, were strewn all about the room, ready for playing, and no one
to have to ‘share’ with.
He was strong and agile, and though the sides of his crib were at least
as high as his jutting chin, he had found through diligent effort that he could
lever his body up, one hand on the bars, the other on the headboard, and
slip one bare foot and half leg over the rail. Transferring his weight to the
outside leg, he would slide onto the top of the rail and find purchase for
the leading foot. Simplicity itself now to bring the rest of his body over
and step softly down the last sixteen-inch stretch to the throw rug below
. . .and out!
Freedom—and he was going to make the most of it! Often he would
get all of the boys up, and they would join him. Who could resist that energy,
those eyes daring you to fly, to take the chance, to come with him on
And when he was caught, oh the scene!
Some minute sound, a toy dropped or a careless footfall, the creak of
the door (not well oiled) or squeak in the floor, would alert us.
“Christopher!” we would yell from below, or whisper “Chris!” through
clenched teeth if the others had not yet awakened. “What are you doing
out of bed?”
Pandemonium! And he would scat like an electrified cat, caution and
stealth thrown to the wind as we charged up the stairs.
Often we would actually have to look for him!
He was good at hiding as well as running.
By this time they would all be awake—Devon, with big sleep-filled
eyes looking on from a seated pose, and Ian, trying to be the good cop,
joining us in remonstration or guiltily jumping back into bed if he had
played a part.
No amount of condemnation, explanation, loss of privilege, or summary
deprivation could halt these excursions.
Looking back at it now from the depths of hard-won experience, it was
obviously both a dare and an amusement to him. He had to do it, had to
push us, challenge our authority.
In Christopher’s eyes, we were not his parents. We were merely bigger
and older, certainly slower and more gullible. We were obstacles to be
overcome, beneficent ogres to be tolerated and obeyed only when no other
option was available.
The old TV show Hogan’s Heroes comes to mind: Margaret as Kommandant
Klink (and I the unfortunate Schultz, though she may argue about
who was which), and they as the plucky, resourceful POWs, ever scheming
Early in this book, the author shares the story of how his family came to adopt six tiny kittens. Their neighbor, Farmer Dave had accidentally killed a mama cat in his field with his hay cutter. His grass was so high that he couldn’t see the poor cat. When Farmer Dave realized that her newborn kittens had survived he reached out to the author’s family; they adopted the orphans.
Yes, there a Reaper. With his sickle keen, he reaps the old grain as well as the precious and beautiful. Author Lynes bases his book on the lyrical poem There is a Reaper by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a popular and well-loved American poet of the 1800’s. The poem is presented at the beginning of the book and each chapter is named after a line from the poem.
This memoir is about the birth, life and death of the author’s middle son. We know how the story ends, and we are privileged to share the journey with the author, his wife and their family. Theirs is a tightly-knit family, setting on a foundation of love, faith, nature, tradition, friends, and books and knowledge.
“Daddy,” they cried and came running. I loved coming home each evening to that welcome.
The Author and his wife guide their family, and especially Chris with grace, control, fortitude and bravery. This is a powerful and inspiring story, a remembrance both simple and yet profound. The author writes with a lyrical style that creates a beauty and love that illuminates his thoughts.
They knew from the day that he was born that their son Chris was powerful and fearless. A strong storm blew in on the day of Chris’ baptism and an equally powerful storm hit the day his family prepared for his funeral. Readers, this book will also hit you hard with its sorrow and inspiration.
It was his life, and it was complete, and it was perfect.
Judging by the title and subtitle alone, one could imagine what type of read lies ahead in this book. But the unexpected element for me was the level of beautiful prose that is found within. This author, as he divulges the details of the unfathomably painful journey of losing his young son to an aggressive form of cancer, also cushions the blow for his readers by offering lyrical descriptions of everything else that was happening during that horrific time in his life. He offers the cruel parallels between the beauty of the land he raised his family on, which once brought them seemingly endless joy and adventure, and the ugliness of death and destruction that took up residence and threatened to steal that joy. He makes the readers experience everything alongside him - the scent of the flowers that grew in the spring outside his home, the icy chill of the winter air, and the truly gut-wrenching heartbreak that he and his wife suffered.
Parents always worry that their children will grow up too quickly - perhaps a ten-year-old daughter wanting to try makeup to look older, a sixteen-year-old boy wanting to try smoking to look cool. As parents, we try to shield our children from the woes and dangers that come along with living in an adult world. Too often, children are forced to grow up in abusive or neglectful home settings where they are made to become the "only responsible adult in the house." That's bad enough; but never should a child be forced to mature quickly enough to decide his/her own meeting with death. It's just cruel and unthinkable. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality for children who are ambushed and dominated by fatal diseases. The strength, maturity, and perseverance that this remarkable young boy exhibits when faced with his own mortality, will leave you speechless in a puddle of your own tears.
I commend this author for sharing his personal story with the world. I hope that it has helped heal the empty space left behind by his young son and aides in the healing of thousands of other parents who have suffered, or are suffering the same heartbreak. I definitely learned way more about cancer than I ever hope to need. I have to admit, I didn't really understand the cover of this book at first sight, but the ending ties the significance of it together in a beautiful way that I never saw coming ... and will most likely never forget!
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one to cancer, or any terminal illness. The author's words really touch your soul.