An intimate account of how belief in God’s “golden thread” sustained a grieving mother.
Cates’ heartfelt debut memoir chronicles a nightmare experience that will likely make all parents want to hug their children. A few inattentive seconds driving (she tried to fix an eyelash jammed painfully in her eye) changed life forever for this wife and mother of two beautiful blond children. Cates and her 6-year-old daughter, Grace, escaped relatively free of injury when their car crashed into a gravel-filled dump truck. But sweet, 8-year-old Malak died, gravely injured by (ironically) the seat belt meant to protect him (too late, Cates and husband Chad learned he needed a booster seat, too). Described in dramatic prose and animated by reconstructed conversations, the heart-rending memoir often turns telenovela dramatic and full of gossip, making for a good read. Consequences pile up as fodder for this ruthlessly honest account that swings from self-pity to survival. Cates felt lost, “crawling up from a hole that went to the center of the earth.” She and her husband tried to regain past happiness by taking a dream family vacation in Bermuda. But a dark truth emerged that made her believe her “once picture-perfect story had slipped into a trashy novel” when Chad’s “internal inferno” of blame brought divorce. It’s a sad story, and she tells it vividly and emotionally, keeping the reader wondering whether she’ll surface with her faith intact. Ultimately, she traded her fairy-tale view of God and prayer for a more mature and nuanced belief in “God’s grace and mercy.” She also offers advice to look for signs of God’s reaching out via little things (in her case pennies, birds) connecting one’s life to God’s plan with “golden threads” of faith.
Not quite a sermon, not quite a cautionary tale, not quite fiction, this fast-paced narrative blends hard-won experience with renewed, reconsidered faith.