RACHEL BELLE

Given a year to live, Seattle mother writes children’s book about death

Oct 8, 2019, 12:25 PM | Updated: 3:55 pm
death, children's book...
Caroline Wright with her children. (Joshua Huston)
(Joshua Huston)

Two and a half years ago, Caroline Wright moved to Seattle from New York City.

“My husband and I, and my son Henry, the older, was three, and my son Theodore was two weeks old,” Wright said.

Soon after, she started having really bad headaches. So she went to the doctor.

“(The doctor) said, ‘Well, just to make sure we should get an MRI.’ And they discovered a seven centimeter brain tumor in my frontal lobe.”

Wright was only 32 years old, and the tumor didn’t present like cancer, so she was told a surgery would be all she needed.

“By the following Friday I was in surgery to have a craniotomy to have it removed,” she said. “And then by the next Friday I found out that it was actually the worst cancer that you can get, glioblastoma. It also has a lovely, charming nickname of ‘The Terminator’ because it usually kills people within a year, which is what I was given to live.”

Regain family life/screen balance with a screentime consultant

During that year, living under the cloud of her doctors’ dire prediction, Wright and her husband settled on a way to talk to their children about death. They believe in being honest. So they answered all of their son Henry’s questions in an age appropriate, but truthful way.

“We basically came to the philosophy that if you don’t tell them what you’re going through, you’re actually doing more damage because you’re damaging the trust the child has with you, which can’t be repaired if you die.”

They looked around for books to read to Henry, but they were either too religious or too metaphorical; none of them actually named death.

“There weren’t any books out there that felt like they spoke to what we were telling the kids,” Wright said. “Which is, whether Mommy’s here or not, there are a lot of loving people who are going to raise you. Mommy’s love is still part of what is going to raise you, whether she’s here or not. That was such a powerful idea and it really did bring comfort to my kids. So one day I just woke up and had the idea for this book.”

Lasting Love: a children’s book

Wright, a cookbook author by trade, wrote a children’s book called Lasting Love. The book is about a sick mother with a young son, who leaves the hospital with a creature.

“The creature is the outward representation of the dying parent’s love.”

Halfway through the book, the mother dies.

“The creature is always by my side now,” Wright reads from Lasting Love, which is narrated by the young son and beautifully illustrated by Seattle artist, Willow Heath. “He never tries to cheer me up, he just keeps me company. He still holds that strongest part of Mama and helps me find her every day. With him, I’m never lost. Together we still find beauty. Together we find Mama everywhere.”

Wright has learned that since adults have a hard time talking about death, they project their fear onto children, assuming they won’t understand, when they actually do.

“Kids have parents who die and just because you don’t want to talk about it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. And it doesn’t mean that those kids don’t need resources.”

Wright donated more than 700 books to Safe Crossings, a Seattle Children’s bereavement group, and says the book has been a welcome and helpful tool. But there are two children who are not fans of her book.

Kids don’t have time to eat school lunch, Washington aims to fix that

“Everybody thought, ‘Oh, this must be so beautiful, or such a relief to have this book. Your sons must love it so much,'” Wright said. “But for my children, this is a book version of their nightmare. Their mom dies halfway through. I tried cuddling them and reading it and everything, but it was traumatic. Henry really can’t get through it. Which I didn’t expect.”

Wright is moderating a panel at Seattle’s Town Hall on November 9 called How to Talk To Kids About Death, featuring experts in the fields of children’s bereavement, terminal illness and cancer.

“I really wanted the focus to be less on my book and more on their amazing work. And my book to be a value added tool for the parents out there.”

Wright was given a year to live, but that was two and a half years ago.

“I’m technically not in the clear. I don’t know that I technically ever will be because it’s a cancer within a 100 percent recurrence rate. But what is impressive to everyone, I’m cancer free. There’s no visible cancer on any of my scans, which is statistically less than 1 percent.”

Lasting Love is out now. Get tickets to the Town Hall event here.

  • listen to rachel belleTune in to KIRO Radio on weekdays to hear Rachel Belle.
Who is Rachel Belle?

Your Last Meal

Rachel Belle

Teenager toxic masculinity...
Rachel Belle

This teenage boy wants to help your teen be vulnerable and fight toxic masculinity

15-year-old Zach Gottlieb started an Instagram and TikTok page for teens to submit questions on topics like anxiety, breakups, and more.
16 days ago
Lab grown salmon...
Rachel Belle

Seattle CEO prepares to bring lab-grown salmon to sushi bars, grocery stores

The next generation of sustainable, environmentally sound proteins will come from actual meat and fish. Wildtype is growing cuts of Coho salmon using salmon cells.
1 month ago
menopause...
Rachel Belle

No one is talking about menopause, not even your doctor

Let's Talk Menopause founder Donna Klassen says most women don't know the symptoms and most medical schools don't include menopause in the curriculum. 
2 months ago
Nadiya Hussain...
Rachel Belle

New ‘Your Last Meal’: British Bake Off winner, Spice Waala brings Indian street food to Seattle

As a child, Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, felt frustrated that her dad served watered down, westernized Indian food at his restaurants.
2 months ago
Toxic positivity...
Rachel Belle

Seattle psychotherapist on how to cope with ‘season of toxic positivity’

Telling your loved ones to look on the bright side when they're feeling down is toxic positivity, and no one likes to hear it. Not even you.
2 months ago
birthday cake...
Rachel Belle

‘Your Last Meal’ podcast explores history of why we eat cake and light candles for birthdays

We all eat birthday cake, but have you ever wondered why? Award-winning chef Christina Tosi dives in on the latest episode of "Your Last Meal."
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Given a year to live, Seattle mother writes children’s book about death