For 40 days, I am choosing a book from my personal book shelves. It will be a book that is insightful, intriguing, or illuminating about women. I will write why I think this book is a positive one and worth a read. This isn’t advertising for me or to promote any of my friends. It’s simply praise for good books.
Day 21, Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup
A six year old girl wanders away from her family while on a picnic near a pond in Maine. When she can’t be quickly found, her frantic parents called the Maine Warden Service. When the search team can’t quickly find the girl, they call their chaplain, Reverend Kate Braestrup, who leaves her own children at home to comfort the little girl’s terrified parents. She tells them she believes their child will be found alive, because that is what the lieutenant in charge of the search told her. She shares this professional assessment with one breath, but in another, internally, she prays to Jesus that it will come true. It does.
This memoir about grief and rebirth is not about a lost little girl who was found alive, although search and rescue is a prominent storyline. This is a true story about the wife of a Maine State Trooper who sees her husband off to work one morning, and never sees him alive again. “Drew” was a father, husband, son, police officer, an “an unusual specimen of state trooper because he had an earring, wrote poetry, and ate whole grains.” He also had plans for a future he would never see. After retiring from the state police, Drew wanted to become a minister. After his death, Kate struggles through the searing pain of loss and honors her husband’s memory by taking up that dream herself. On her first day at seminary, she tells the professor she is there in Drew’s place, but it is not true. What’s true, as she tells herself, is that He is here. I carry him.
Why is Here If You Need Me a good read for women? Grief is a foreign land, and faith is a test not all people can pass. Kate Braestrup’s memoir shares instances of ministering to people while a search-and-rescue team walk, fly, or boat through the ponds and forests of Maine–anecdotes that make good memoir on their own. She kept her faith, despite heartbreak, loneliness, and anger. Kate loved her husband. She had a good marriage. It’s not easy being a young widow with four children. It’s not easy finding a missing child alive in the woods when your husband died in the front seat of his patrol car. The latter, however, led to the former, and Kate followed the path, first in the footsteps of Drew, and then in her own. Carrying Drew’s dream inside, Kate searched and found her calling.