Just once or twice in any book reviewer’s life, all standard terms of reference go by the board. This is what happens with Adelaide poet Jackie Barreau’s Through a Mother’s Eyes – Poems of Love, Loss & Moving Forward.
Jackie has been married to husband David of 22 years, and says they have “two beautiful girls who light up our lives. I am also a bereaved mother of two special angels.”
In 1997, Jackie and David’s son, Luke James, was diagnosed at the age of 13 months with stage-four neuroblastoma, an aggressive malignant childhood cancer. At the age of two years and four months in December 1998, after chemotherapy, an operation, stem cell transplant and radiotherapy, Luke lost his brave fight. During the year that Luke was undergoing his treatment, Jackie had fallen pregnant again, but she lost baby Cody Alan in the 26th week of her term, just three months before Luke’s passing.
Jackie adds: “This book was born out of inspiration for the many bereaved parents and their terminally ill children who receive treatment and support through the Paediatric Palliative Care Service at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.”
A final impetus or catalyst for the book, if such were needed, was the couple’s eldest daughter, Tayla, being diagnosed at age 13 with a neuroendocrine tumour, a very rare genetic form of cancer in children.
That was in March 2012, and since then Tayla has more than gone on with life: she qualified this year for the state under-15 lacrosse team, and joined her mum in the city-bay fun run to raise money for the paediatric palliative care service at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Jackie and David’s younger daughter, Mia, a keen Andy Griffiths reader, has represented her school in cross-country running.
Through a Mother’s Eyes is an eclectic book, a collection of Jackie’s own poems, all intentionally untitled, alongside some Chinese proverbs, and quotations from Kahlil Gibran and various writers on the subject of the other three words that appear on the book’s cover – courage, hope, love. A number of illustrative photos are also included along with the poems and quotes, and the author has chosen a distinctive and quite fitting square format for her book. Two of Jackie’s poems appear below.
So much to give
this selfless act
of a mother’s love.
It’s a special bond
that develops at conception
and it will always remain
until the very end.
The pain of losing a child
threatens to burn through
the very core of you,
so raw and so powerful
is a mother’s love.
Take me back
to those early years
when life was simple.
We held no fear.
You were an angel
sent from above,
here to guide us
with your wisdom and love:
immortal in death than in life itself.
This is not the end
but just the beginning.
Through a Mother’s Eyes ($19.95) is available via the author’s website, and at selected bookshops such as Shakespeare’s Books at Pt Noarlunga; Pages & More at Glenelg, Victor Harbor and Mt Barker; Collins Booksellers in Edwardstown, and The Bookboys in Unley.
Readers’ original and unpublished poems up to 30 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to email@example.com. A poetry book will be awarded to each contributor.
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