Editor’s Note: We do our best to pair our book reviews together with author interviews so that our readers can have a fuller appreciation of the help resources in our community. We are very honoured and grateful to have Mary, the author of ‘David’s Story‘, share with us her personal story on loss and renewed hope. We hope you enjoy this heartfelt, touching story as much as we did :)
David’s Story is a heartfelt tale about family and grief. Can you share more about how the idea of the book came about?
The character ‘David’ actually refers to my beloved brother, whose name is also David. It was very painful to see my brother suffer with depression and loneliness. When he passed away tragically, I felt the world come to a standstill.
I love my brother very much and it was very hard to accept the sudden loss. Grieving was necessary but it seemed never ending.
With my faith, I went through this journey very much alone. I learned and grew as a person. I drew courage and strength from David’s life.
People think the feelings of loss are all the same but I disagree; the experience of each individual is very different, in terms of the intensity too. I wanted to let readers know that they are not alone; for every tear that is shed, there is comfort waiting and they just have to open up to receive it. I wanted not only David’s memory to be passed on to my grandchildren’s generation but also to send a message of hope to those who grieve.
Live a life of blessings by sharing and giving to those in need, be it a hug, a word of comfort or just one’s presence. I hope my book will bring comfort and joy to someone in a moment of darkness, and illuminate in them hope.
Who is the target audience for this book?
When I was writing the book, I had in mind a target audience of children and young person ages 3 to 14. After completing it, realised it is also suitable for adults. So I would say that the book is meant for everyone. It is a simple book yet unique in addressing the process of grief.
Do you appear in this book as a character? Why and/or why not?
I appear as the character ‘Martha’. I spent quite a lot of time with my brother when we were younger, and one of the most memorable episodes was of tickling feet. Including myself as a character was is my way of telling not only to my family but readers as well particularly that their loved one made a real impact to others when he was alive and their legacy still lives in the memory of hearts.
There’s a green bird that has made a couple of appearances in your book – what is its significance? Was this illustration planned?
The green bird was planned and integrated into the book. In fact the green bird first gave me the idea and motivated me to write the book.
The morning after my brother’s funeral, I woke up early in the morning to discover a beautiful bright green bird in my hall. It perched on the window ledge singing a soothing melody. It kept looking at me for a while and it did not fly away even when I approached it. I take it as a sign from heaven. In the story of Noah’s ark, a bird flew out of the ark to find land after a storm of 40 days and 40 nights, which paralleled my brother’s struggle with depression.
The scene with the bird was meaningful, intimate, and surprising one that I will always treasure in my heart.
I asked my illustrator Karen Lesslar to incorporate the bird into the book but she had no idea how the bird actually looked like. I told her that it was very unique and that I had never seen such a bird in my life. The only details I managed to give her were that it was refreshing, beautiful, had a nice tail and was bright green in color. With the scant details, Karen somehow captured one, among many that she had sketched, that I liked.
There is a lovely scene in the front cover of the book where David and Martha sit together looking out into the garden and the bird rests above them. In fact this particular scene was only established by Karen when I had asked her to do some changes for a particular page. When I looked at her finished work, I was very happy. I thought Karen could not have done more beautifully. It was just perfect. Hence, my book was completed with all the illustrations done beautifully.
I like how you’ve made mentions of Family Service Centres and therapists. How important is mental health when it comes to children and families, and how would these services support them?
Some years ago, walking into a Family Service Centre seemed taboo to most Singaporeans. Today, it is not as bad but there are still individuals who find it a challenge to go to a therapist to talk about their fears and concerns.
I recall a close friend of mine mentioning to me that she did not want to hang her dirty linen in public. I had to educate her that therapists and counsellors have a code of ethics and talking would help elevate her feelings so that she could come to awareness of her issues. With much encouragement, I managed to bring her to one and she appreciated it. She is very much happier with the decisions she had made and lives a normal and healthy life today.
Similarly, my brother’s death had impacted my nieces, nephews, cousins and relatives of a younger age.
I wanted them to know that a Family Service Centre is a place of privacy and that one can seek help and support from a neutral party there.
I believe that children and young adults must be exposed to the words ‘counselling’, ‘therapist’ and ‘Family Service Centre’ as social and mental issues are on the rise. I want readers to know how to get help when in need. The helplines of various VWOs are included at the back of the book.
For information on where to purchase the book, please visit the link here.