I found it hard to finish this book, let alone to write something about it. Don’t get me wrong. It is a memoir that dragged my attention from the first line. “It hooked me,” as many experienced readers would say. However, there were plenty of moments I would stare at my phone, afraid that my Jacob’s nanny would call, or there would be many nights when I went to check if my son was breathing. Moments when I just held him tight in my arms, kissed him and told him “I love you.” He would whisper the same words. Almost two years ago, I was going through a grieving stage myself. My wife, Jan, had just been diagnosed with triple-negative and metastasized breast cancer and Jacob was only thirteen months old. I was a student, an immigrant, a new parent, and unemployed. I had thought that if cancer took Jan away, I wouldn’t be able to raise Jacob by myself. There were a lot of disturbing thoughts, which I choose not to mention here, but I can ensure you that there were the thoughts of a grieving man—despite my constant smiling and cheering up Jan. Many times Jacob would climb on me, smile and give me a faint baby-ish kiss, watering his lips with my tears. He is a sweet boy. As I was reading Once More We Saw Stars, a question terrified me: “what my world would be without him? How would I be able to move forward as Jason and Stacy did? Are Jan and I this strong?”
What makes this memoir so strong and widely accepted by millions of readers is questions similar to mine. The memoir itself is a grieving biography or a way for Jason and Stacy to honor their daughter’s memory and move forward with loving and caring for Harry. Yet this memoir demonstrates the ambiguity of life as well as our ability to pick up the pieces and start over even after its most fragile moments. Jason and Stacy are looking for signs. It will be a balloon, or a dead bird, or a dream of an old man. They are the signs they are looking. The meaning behind those signs and the catharsis that comes with them show how things we consider ordinary can be ambiguous. I thought that for me a sign would be a fire truck, a dumb track, a blue shirt, and an orange bowtie. Every parent can thing of different signs and the ways that they would have reacted to the sudden passing of their child, and this is something achieved by Greene’s detailed writing. However, Jason and Stacy demonstrate an inner strength and an even stronger bond with each other that differentiate them from the rest of the lot. From the first moment, they make the decision to make Greta’s death matter by donating her organs. However, they go further than this most altruistic act. When they decide to have another baby, they decide to make their marriage and lives matter. When Jason decides to publish this book, with Stacy’s consent, they decide to make all the pain and grieving matter. By this way, they teach other parents that when tragedy strikes, make everything matter.
Finally, it is unknown if this memoir would remain in history like Julian of Norwich or Nat Turner did. If people, in other words, years from now will be reading it. However, the parents of today will read it, for we share in common the facts that we live in big cities where tragedies may happen and we—all of us new and old parents—are dread of something happening to our children.