Jesse’s book: Thankful for a way to share the memories

jesse's book
Elizabeth reading Jesse's story to her grandson. Photo: My Story Matters

By Katie Zackrison

One of the biggest reasons I was drawn to intern with My Story Matters was because of the incredible opportunity I would have to work with individual families to record such touching stories of their darling children. When I was asked to work with Elizabeth on the book she was writing for her son, I had no idea the profound impact it would have on my life. What started as a simple email, resulted in a dear friendship, a special journey, and a book to be treasured forever.

The first email I exchanged with Elizabeth was in January of this year. She expressed her interest in working with My Story Matters and we decided to meet in person. She spent a few hours introducing me to her son, Jesse, by showing me his pictures and sharing with me the story of his life. Since Jesse was 16 when he passed away, we didn’t have any book templates created for older children. I was able to work closely with Elizabeth to customize every page in her book. We spent hours each week personalizing her book to the exact vision she carried in her mind. She sent me hundreds of pictures, edited the stories by my side, and shared tears with me as we remembered Jesse.

I can’t describe the joy we felt as we finished the last page. It was quite a feeling of accomplishment for an even greater cause. As I worked on this book, I became invested in the story. I felt like I really knew Jesse. I was motivated by a sense of urgency to record his life in a way in which he could be remembered forever. Elizabeth and I finished Jesse’s book in late July. It may have taken us months, but it was nothing short of a labor of love. To read more about Jesse, look for the spotlight Jesse’s Light in the November edition of Serve Daily.

I truly learned the power in writing, and I know firsthand the way which stories can shape and mold your life. Because of that power, lives are brought together like Elizabeth and me, and memories are created that will always be cherished.

We delivered Jesse’s book to his family the day they were allowed back into their home after being evacuated in Woodland Hills because of the fires. Elizabeth shares, “It was so good to go through the experience of creating this book to remember Jesse by. My children who have seen it so far love all the pictures of Jesse in one place. I immediately took the book on tour as I visited my children and grandchildren to share Jesse’s story with them. It was very therapeutic and healing to put the book together.”

My Story Matters Angel storybooks honor the journeys of these precious children who have left life young, while providing comfort and perspective for families who have lost a child. If you or someone you know has lost a child you can nominate them to receive this gift of story, which is free of charge to the family, at www.mystorymatters.org/nominate.