The book title caught my eye right away: “Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives.” It’s a new book by Today Show host Hoda Kotb, and as the title suggests it chronicles the stories of people who encountered some dramatic tragedy or loss in their lives, or some other significant change, but have somehow risen to meet the challenge and created a positive, meaningful life…ten years later.
That’s exactly the story of Jill Kraft Thompson, a client of mine and author of the recently released memoir, “Finding Jill: How I Rebuilt My Life After Losing the Five People I Loved Most.”
Jill writes movingly from the perspective of looking back over her last ten years after surviving her personal tragedy. On March 25, 2002, she was riding with her family in a minivan in Italy. It was a joyous time of showing her mother, sister, and niece the cities of Venice and Florence and many other attractive places in the country she had adopted as a temporary home. Her husband had taken a two-year job stint there and he and Jill and their two young sons had grown to love the people, the beauty, and the history of Italy.
Until the semi crossed the median and struck their minivan head-on. Jill’s husband, two boys, mother and niece perished in the crash, and she and her sister barely survived. In a previous post, I mentioned how Jill’s story openly unveils the depth of her grief, while also taking readers to what began to emerge on the other side of grief: a husband, a young son, a life that while still honoring her lost loved ones and dealing with the ripples of pain that do not go away has also made room for the joy of living, and loving, again.
And it’s all covered in that ten-year frame. Like the characters in “Ten Years After,” Jill shows us that over time, we too can recover from that which seems beyond our resources to hold in our arms and endure. We can go on. We can find a new way. We can persevere, with courage and faith and love from others.
It’s not surprising that “Ten Years After” is selling so well because this is a message that we need to hear and can learn so much from. In our culture we may soon be hearing other ten-years-later accounts from those who had some part in the public tragedies we see in the media seemingly every day – mass shootings, cruise ship accidents, fires and storms, etc. Already we have witnessed Columbine survivors reaching out to families of those who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook.
People whose tragedies or major loss that have been far less public also have much to teach us. They have been to places few of us can even imagine. And they have continued their journey. Stronger. As a memoir ghostwriter, personal historian, and teacher of Writing Your Life Story classes, I have been privilegd to hear many such stories from my clients and students. Each one has touched me, moved me, and taught me.
Do YOU have a ten-year-after inspirational story to share? If you do, I would welcome hearing from you!
– Kevin Quirk, author of “LYour Life Is a Book And It’s Time to Write It,” has been helping people of all ages and backgrounds tell the most meaningful stories of their lives in his role as memoir ghsotwriter and personal historian.