fly-a-little-higherSeptember 2015 is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Sometimes people’s stories weave their way into your life, and you are forever changed. You may never meet them in person, but it doesn’t matter. Your destinies are intertwined and mingle in a very deep, personal, and intimate way.

This is what happened when I read Fly A Little Higher by Laura Sobiech. Not only is Sobiech a fantastic and articulate author, but the story of her son, Zach’s journey is inspirational, motivational, and spiritually powerful. Most people are familiar with Zach Sobiech because of the publicity his song, “Clouds,” received in 2012 and 2013. But when you read Laura’s version of his journey, you understand the very raw moments of grief that reveal themselves in an otherwise incredibly hopeful and optimistic way of approaching life and death.

Zach is famously quoted as saying, “You don’t have to be dying to start living,” and I believe that is the single-most important point that underlies his legacy. Zach – and his entire family – lived what they believed, and they didn’t sugarcoat the really dark times but did choose to find the meaning and beauty in the suffering.

Laura Sobiech has a magnanimous heart that extends beyond her family of origin. Her story is just that – her story – though it is mainly about Zach’s life, death, and legacy. What makes the Sobiechs stand out among millions of other people is that they are authentic and unashamed to proclaim their faith: its strength and the wrestling with questions, anger, frustration, and yes, even joy in the midst of sorrow and tears.

Sobiech truly understands grief in all of its facets. She clearly expresses the hidden depth that often develops in a person who has been afflicted with unique and intense suffering. The spiritual development and appreciation for simple moments in life often accompanies facing life and death on a daily basis. As a fellow caregiver of a child with a rare disease, I know this well.

When our sweet Sarah was born, grief struck me hard and nearly knocked me flat on my face.  I didn’t realize that one day I would look at my life in retrospect and see the goodness, gift, and grace that grief had to offer me.  In fact, I wasn’t even entirely sure how to define it, let alone live it.  Sobiech has unveiled a poignant way to articulate grief honestly and yet hopefully.  For that reason alone, I found this book to be an incredible grief resource.

Fly A Little Higher is a story that is universal, however. Everyone has loved and lost. Everyone has been afflicted with grief, suffering, and darkness. Even if you aren’t familiar with osteosarcoma, Sobiech’s memoir is a touching, heartwarming and yet very gripping recount of her beautiful son, Zach, who lived his short life without regret and embracing each new day with greater appreciation, love, and joy than the one before.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is searching for inspiration or perhaps meaning in the convoluted areas of their life. Zach’s life had a way of impacting people greatly in a short amount of time, so be prepared to be amazed…and to go forward to change your life for good.

Here is the official video for Zach’s incredible goodbye song, “Clouds.”  People from all over the world have experienced renewed hope when listening to his words put to song.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  To learn more about how you can donate toward osteosarcoma research and help eradicate this disease, please visit Children’s Cancer Research Fund. 

Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.