This is a paid review of Spark: A Creative Anthology (Volume III). Regardless of the amount paid, the review is my own honest and true opinion of the book, be it positive or negative.
As I read Spark: A Creative Anthology (Volume III), I was excited to release my inner artist as I let the words permeate my mind. This piece is exactly what it sounds like–a book filled with creatively and interestingly written poetry and stories. Most of the works have a sketch or image to accompany them, adding to the artistic vibe the book already offers. It’s a celebration of stories and moments captured mainly through the written word. My favorite part of it is the fact that there are stories and poems that perhaps everyone can relate to. Through the telling of heart-wrenching stories or giving brief, poetic glimpses at moments frozen in time, this book will put you in touch with your feelings and help you to think critically about your own life and the moments that make it up.
The stories are about ordinary people. Some stories are true, some fiction. Some are strange, thought-provoking, or unusual. Others will tug your heartstrings and fill you with inspiration. And there is something to be gleaned and appreciated from each one.
One story in particular coincides closely with the mission and themes of Forward Walking, and so merits further review:
The Story of a Mother is a wonderfully-written, true story about two young parents, Mika and Jarom, who endure one of the most difficult struggles that I have ever learned about. The trial–which lasts several months and lingers with them for a lifetime–is thoroughly explored, and their thoughts and feelings are documented every step of the way. I especially like the snippets from their journals that are included through out the story. These people are so easy to relate to that, by the end of the story, I felt like I knew Mika personally and had endured everything right alongside her. Although there is much heartache and sadness in Mika’s words, there is also an underlying drive within this couple to move forward and to try to live a full life in spite of the hardships they face. This drive something that moves us all through our challenges, and it is something we can all learn in order to become a little bit better.
In the story, Mika and Jarom attempt to do various things to cope with their trial: make lists of things they’re grateful for, search for humor in ordinary circumstances, allow themselves to grieve, create and embracing moments of laughter and smiles, distance themselves from reality when they need a break from it, communicate clearly, and rely on others when they are at their wits’ end. By giving us a glimpse into their lives, this wonderful couple offers great perspective for those of us who have never dealt with serious and life-changing challenges of our own.
During part of her grieving process, Mika turns to writing, using words to express and shape her feelings and flurry of emotions. One thing in particular that stuck out to me, is that Mika makes a list of things she likes to hear from people or things people can do to help her. At one point she writes, “…it’s human nature to mourn with those that mourn. And I know my friends are mourning with me because the thing I hear most is, ‘I wish I knew what to say.’ A lot of the time, I don’t know what to say, either. Or when people want to do something concrete, either I can’t come up with anything on the spot or I’m not in the mood to admit that I need help.” Her honesty has earned my respect and compassion, as it will anyone who reads her story.
Time heals Mika’s wounds little by little, and after thoroughly grieving, her depression gives way to happiness once again. She writes: “If you have glasses or contacts, think of how the world looks without them on. It’s like I had been seeing everything blurry, but without realizing it was blurry. And when I finally could see again, it was refreshing and exhilarating and joyful.”
The hardest part of Mika and Jarom’s story is that it is real. It is a real story about a real trial. Although I kept hoping for a miracle of some sort throughout the entire story, the truth is that the ending is real. In her own words, Mika admits, “I realize that every time I talk to anyone or post on my blog, I work hard to tone my emotions down so as to not be too depressing or hopeless or heartbreaking.”
While it’s not what you might consider to be a movie-style, happy ending, this story does end on a very positive note, giving purpose to this mother’s tragedy. She finds strength and meaning in telling her story. She knows it “won’t unbreak anyone’s heart… But in some tiny way, it will help.”
That’s why she shares it. It’s how she keeps walking forward in life, and it has inspired (and will continue to inspire) many others to do the same.