I had a chance to interview Sandra Moore Bernsen in Quartzsite, Arizona, where she was hosting an author signing event at Readers Oasis Books. Sandra wrote Free My Heart of Grief to Love-A Journey from Loss to Joy, a memoir of devastating loss and recovery.
Born in Minnesota, the financially stressed family moved to Montana where she later found the “bad boy” to whom she gave her heart. The antithesis of Sandra, she and Rich married and eventually moved to Idaho where they established a life of their own after welcoming their two sons. Ray was their first born son. Patrick followed, but at 8 days old went from being a happy, healthy boy to one of multiple and massive health issues–forcing the family for an extended period of time to concentrate on acquiring his care where they could and eventually losing him to the devastating illness that ravaged his little body.
Ray had his own issues, but borne of the eventual loss of his younger brother and that of his beloved German Shepherds, Sam and Alf, he turned inward for solace and took it upon himself to garner the protection he felt he needed. The protection accidentally turned deadly one evening in the kitchen as he fixed himself a late-night snack. Roused by the sharp report in the kitchen, both mother and father discovered their son had suffered a fatal head wound. Within 10 short weeks of the loss of Ray, Sandra’s mother succumbed to her own health issues.
Devastated, both parents grieved in their own way until Rich was discovered to have contracted acute leukemia–one so rare his doctors were at a loss to create an appropriate treatment regime. Sandra took her husband home and once again faced the emotional turmoil of laying to rest another loved one. Continue reading “What Makes a Survivor?”