I’m thankful this season for nothing. Nothing you can see, anyway. I am thankful for friendship that binds, for challenges that make us rise, for love that softens the heart, and for laughter that builds joy. I am thankful for hope of a new day, faith in God, stillness of peace, and timely compassion. I am thankful for moments that teach me, and prayers that reach me—and too, I am thankful for forgiveness and charity. I am thankful for advice from others, and listening hearts, mending and cheering when I need them most. I am thankful for presence of angels above, my sweet Katie, and Grandparents…I often feel their love. But as Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, I am most thankful for gratitude, a gift that can brighten the grayest days and magnify the strongest rays. The best “nothing” of all.
Oh how I wish you were here so I could hug you and tell you how much I love you. I miss you every single day. But, Kates, you should hear what they are saying about this little book of ours. About how they want their own “Katie” in their lives — and how the friendship we have is as precious as the finest treasures.
You know me better than anyone else, and you carried a part of my very private history with you to the other side. You knew of my pain those early years in school. You protected me with a feisty way that was full of power and love. Because you were by my side for the hard days—you could see how much the good days meant to me . You were and STILL are my gift from God. You cheered on the greatness you knew was within me.
I hope your five sweet babies will one day read this book and know their mamma was full of amazing, true, golden, spirit from the first to the last years of earthly life.I’ll love you forever woman! And I flash my porch light often and hope you see it shine—and I hope, too, that you are proud of the reflection it casts.
The past 12 days have been so much fun! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send me a note on how they felt about White Bees. Here are a few of my favorites:
“I just finished White Bees. Wow – I loved it. Several chuckles, lots of smiles and some total belly laughs. And just as many times when – my throat tightened and tears of the other kind welled. Really poignant writing – but not heavy handed or maudlin just true, clear, strong and sometimes hard. The book was powerful, funny, fabulous – just like it’s author. You have a gift – keep sharing it. ” – Dave F.
“I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. I have always thought you were a beautiful, talented, and remarkable woman. But after reading about your childhood and all of the surgeries and struggles you endured I am just so impressed about how someone can be so positive about life and have such a great attitude and beautiful spirit. You are truly and inspiration to all of us.” – DiAnna P.
“Reading mine now. Its great! Already cried a few times!” – Tyra B.
“Just finished White Bees. All I can say is “well done.” I am so happy for you and your success. I think the biggest compliment that I could pay you is that my 13 year old daughter has been fighting me for equal time with our copy of your book. I appreciate you sharing a story that is worthy of sharing with her. You truly are an inspiration. I mean this with complete honesty: there are few people that I can say have helped me see a new perspective in life, and thus changed my life for the better…you are certainly one.” – Layne S.
“Amy, I just finished reading your book! You are truly a brick and suffered but came out shining. You have an important message to others with the same affliction and to those who are hurtful and insensitive to others. Your book will be read by many and your story will touch lives that you will never know. I love it that you are giving of your time and talents, as we are told to do, and your rewards will be great. You kept on when it may have been easier to quit and withdraw, but your reward is priceless. I admire you, love the book, and will give my Granddaughter (16) one for Christmas. I hope to be able to hear you speak in the near future. There is much to think about in your book and I am glad you were pushed to write.” – Lenada B.
“I loved it! The thing I really liked about it is you showed how strong the inner spirit is, and how important it is to be a good person.” – Bobbi B.
“I’m on page 142. I have cried, laughed, cried, and remembered childhood. To many words of poignant wisdom, but this is so far my favorite, “I chose to stay.” Chills. And the chapter with your Grandpa’s journal … I couldn’t stop crying.” -Cortney E.
“Amy, this book is so amazing! The way you tell your story fills me with such a beautiful spirit. When I finished your book, I felt like I could do anything that our Father places in our path. I love how you explained even your deepest feelings about everything you went through; even the basic things, like catching an unexpected glance in the mirror. After I finished I had that feeling where I sat there for a minute, and then all of a sudden, I had that desire to inspire. Your book is truly an amazing inspiration to me, and I loved being able to hear about our sweet angel Katie. You are so amazing Amy!” – Megan H.
“You are Amazing Amy!! I got my books today and I’m only on page 16 but I’ve already laughed and cried!! It is so fun to know the characters of this amazing story! I’m not sure if I will be able to get anything done over the next few days until I’m done reading your book!” – Denise M.
“Amy I am half way through your book and it’s beautiful.” – Jenni S.
“Oh Amy I just finished your beautiful book!!!! I loved it!!! You are so amazing and are such an inspiration!! I will cherish this book forever!! Thank you for telling your story!! I hope to read more books by you!! Love you so much!” – Monique F.
“Girl, I can’t read this without bawling like a baby.” – Jana H.
“My kids are completely affected by your book already and I want to thank you for spending the hours and hours to put this into so many hands. Thank you for being willing to share. I’m sure you will touch many lives.” – Holly J.
“My daughter wanted to read the book first, so I had to wait until yesterday for my turn to start, so I only just finished reading ‘White Bees’. Oh how I loved it! Every word of it, just beautiful. It was real, easily pulling me into the story and kept me there, even when I had to put it down I was still thinking about it, it was in my head the whole time. Still is. I love reading books that I know I’m going to go back and read all over again just to re-cement it in my brain. And coming away feeling different somehow, just slightly changed, for the better. Just brilliant. Love. Love. Love.” – Heather M.
” I have just laughed and cried my way through White Bees. Loved it! ” – Linda A.
“My kids have been deeply engrossed in the book the past two hours. ” – Spencer B.
” I am already on chapter seven. I love it so far.” – Lori B.
“Just finished your book, struggled to get things done this weekend because I couldn’t put it down! I loved it! Such a beautiful story and you are such a beautiful person.” – Brittany Y.
“I’m reading your book and it is awesome!!!!” – Saige B.
“This morning I was telling my husband how much I was loving your book. ” – Jessica A.
“Your book has sucked me in! I feel like I’m one of the rebels You and your story rock!!” – Jenny H.
“I have a huge presentation on Monday and I need to prepare and I can’t put your damn book down.” – Kim S.
“I already finished it! I couldn’t put it down. I loved it!! You are such a beautiful woman inside and out.” – Briana D.
This morning my office is stacked with boxes ready to be shipped, inside each one is a copy of my memoir, White Bees. Many of the orders are coming from sweet mom’s and dad’s….just like mine…who want to help their baby girl or boy who were born with a cleft lip and palate. Last night I wrote each child a special unique note, focusing on their name and the information that their parents provided me—seeking the right message that would help them when they needed it in the future. If only I published this memoir, the hardest days of my life, to help one little girl or boy know that it will all be OK…then it was worth it. One of the mom’s who requested a book wrote this comment: “Your courage inspires and blesses many – including us mommy’s to babies with clefts who continuously worry about the journey that lies ahead for their little ones. God is good and we are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made! Thank you!” So to Grace, Dylan, Carlin, Francine, Emma Grace, Ryder, and Blyss…may you always remember, that just like the white bees that fall from the sky, you are one-of-a-kind beautiful.
On Friday all the days of writing alone turned into one awesome night of sharing my hard work in the form of a book. Pay Day!! I invited my favorite people to a local coffee shop for the reveal of White Bees, and in amazing form…my friends showed up. And they bought my book. My treasure. My memoir. With pages filled with soul baring moments. Soaring triumph. And difficult days. My friends filled that coffee shop to the brim! They stood in line and waited to talk to me, hug me, laugh with me and cry with me. And now they are calling me and texting me, and posting on facebook —saying they love my words. That they couldn’t put White Bees down. That they didn’t sleep over the weekend because they were reading. That they now have a better understanding of those born with a cleft lip and palate. That they cried. And felt. And understood. Pay day. It only comes once it a lifetime like it did for me on Friday. And what a grand day it was.
There lives inside each of us a story. Whether we tell it or not is up to us. In 2011 I got serious about writing my story, due much in part to the fearless cheering from my mom who believed in my story AND my writing. I stayed up each night from 9pm-midnight pouring over journals, pictures, and scraps of the past. When my mom and I went to see The Help in August of 2011 she said afterward, “Amy, go write! Get your story out there! You must!” I loved that she was as excited as I was about my project. Along the way I re-lived memories I never wanted to think about and discovered layers that have built my character. I encountered spiritual experiences that blended seamlessly into understanding more about the highest influencers in my past, such as my beloved Dr. T. Ray Broadbent — whose picture appeared right in front of me high on a wall, while I was visiting Wasatch High School with Kory in late 2011. His surgical mask around his neck woke up memories of his kindness and I felt his presence that day so close to me the hair stood up on my arms. I couldn’t wait to rush home and fill in the gaps of those early memories of him that were suddenly tangible and alive.
I was dedicated more than ever to finishing my book and helping those who would benefit from my message. Everywhere I went I took a draft of my book, marking it up, and working on the flow. I hired an editor who happened to live in the same city as my best friend Katie. Her name was Katie too! And with her help I refined the book even more. When I thought I was done with my memoir, I printed a first edition for my mom, dad, and my brothers and sisters for Mother’s Day in 2012. But after giving the book time to rest, and with the advice of several trusted beta readers, I revised, revised and revised. Nearly a year and a half of revising as a matter-of-fact. The effort became monumental. Almost as if I couldn’t see the finish line. But there was a tiny light at the end of the tunnel that grew bigger each day. And the effort paid off. Today I am happy to say that I am proud of the work I have done to complete my memoir, White Bees. I did it! I wrote a book. Just like me, it isn’t perfect. But I hope that those who read it will feel the grace of my white bees and seek to find their own. And maybe…just maybe…be inspired to write their own story.