Please welcome new author Louise Rule, debut book, Future Confronted is released today. Louise tells us here about herself and why she decided to publish a journal about the tragic last days of her 20 year old son Rob, who lost his life due to a brain tumour. Louise is a lovely lady and has become a great friend since she and I worked on the draft of her book in conjunction with Michelle Gent and
Hi, I’m Louise Rule and I was born in London in 1947. I met my husband Dave in November 1962, and we got married in June 1967. Then, over time, three wonderful sons came along; Steven, born in 1969, Martin, born in 1971 and Robert born in 1976. Life was good.
After many years of holidaying on Hayling Island we decided to move here in 1983 and set up home in sight of the sea. The boys loved it, but weren’t looking forward to starting new schools, but they soon settled in.
Unfortunately in May 1997 Rob dropped the bombshell that he was having trouble with his vision. This was the beginning of our traumatic journey through an illness that was to take our son’s life. It was a journey for which none of us had any preparation. The time-scale was short. 49 days. During that very short time we were crushed, pulled apart, thrown back together, and united in our grief. Rob, throughout, demonstrated a dignity which I can only describe as extraordinary.
We scattered Rob’s ashes on top of Butser Hill, a very special place for Rob and for all of us. There is no marker to show that he is there. Of course we all had and still have our own way of handling our grief, but the grief of losing a child, who was also a surviving twin, is still like a suppurating wound. It was my grief that was the instigator for writing Rob’s story.
In those first weeks I sat at my computer and just started bashing out the details of the journey that we had all just travelled. I kept at it, on and off, over several days. When I had finished I was exhausted. It was only when I printed it, and then read it that the awful details crushed me totally. But through the reading it gave me permission to cry, something that I hadn’t allowed myself to do. Yes I had sobbed now and then, but crying was something else. I thought that once I started I wouldn’t be able to stop. It was cathartic and it meant that I could give myself permission to move on to the next day.
The book Future Confronted didn’t start to come to fruition until this year after I had retired from my internet business. At 66 years of age I decided that my time was now going to be my own, and it was time to finish writing the book that had been a work-in-progress for 16 years.
I have always kept a diary and a journal. In fact the original working title for the book was No Longer Lost but Found – A Journal.
I didn’t really know where to start when I first started the task of writing FUTURE CONFRONTED. I had many scenarios in my head. Should I start from when Rob was born? Should I perhaps start from when he first became ill?
I had many false starts over the years.EventuallyI decided to start with myself as a young girl in London where I lived with my brother and mother and father in the house that my Grandfather had bought back in 1927. This house had survived bomb damage during World War II, and because it had survived, I always felt safe and content there. I decided to compare a particularly happy childhood memory with our devastating memory on Butser Hill, some forty years later.
It’s difficult to find a voice when describing the events of losing a child. It would have been easier to just relate the facts without a human voice, but that wouldn’t have conveyed the strength of Rob’s determination. I love to talk, so to this end I decided to write it as though I were actually having a conversation with someone who didn’t know me or any of our family. This imaginary person was sitting across the table from me waiting to hear what I had to say. It worked for me because I had a visual, an anchoring point to which I could pin myself.
As time went on, this person sitting opposite me began to grow into a real person. I looked forward to talking to her. In my head I had given her a name, she had a life, and that is when I found that I could freely open up to her, and tell her Rob’s story. She didn’t interrupt, she didn’t have an opinion; she just listened to me. It made the telling, the writing, less traumatic. It was excruciating sometimes in the reliving, I would dissolve into tears as the details crowded inside my head. Sorting them out was difficult. I needed to put them coherently so that what I was trying to say didn’t get smothered. It was quite frankly one of the most difficult tasks of the writing.
I have a real need to write. I have always kept a Diary and a Journal. In my Diary for May, June, and July 1997 there were no comments, just times of appointments for clinics and a funeral, written in an even hand. Whereas in my Journal, the details of those 49 days from diagnosis to passing away are scrawled, sometimes in large writing, sometimes so small it is difficult to read. I had not taken notice of the ruled lines, I had just scrawled my feelings in many directions, as though I were shouting, or whispering. I know now, looking back, that the large writing was when I was angry, and shouting and the small writing was when I was whispering, and dared to hope. In the beginning we had hope, but over those few short weeks it became evident that there was no hope, nothing to hang on to.
Now that my book, Rob’s story, has been completed and is being published on Rob’s birthday 4th December, I feel that I have honoured him not only in print, but also in spirit. My fervent wish is that our journey will have some resonance with another who has travelled the road of losing a child, and that in some way it may help them.
Louise is also a valued member of The Review Admins Team