Books

A deeply felt tale of loss
Goodbye … Au Revoir … Slán by Louis Hemmings, graphics by Katya Zhu (Samovar Books, €5.00 / £4.20; contact Avonbeg, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin; mob: 085 202 1941; online from vimeo.com/77928404)

This little book, in graphic novel form, is a true story about a stillborn girl, Holly, and her brothers, related by one of them Lawrence. The first of its kind in Ireland, it is a story which writer and publisher Louis Hemmings has already told some time ago in an earlier publication Holly: A Story of a Stillborn. The loss of a child is devastating, the loss of a stillborn child even more so. Recognition of what such an event means to families was at last recognised with the passage of the Stillbirths Registrations Act in 1994.

The moment of inspiration for this little book was when Lawrence, nearly four, who had taken to playing by himself after he learnt that Holly would not be coming home, but he would see her when he went to Heaven. The boy came in one day and asked, “Daddy, isn’t it true, when Jesus comes back, the baby will be alive?” Louis was dumbfounded, as he had never talked about this ever with the boy. But he explained, yes, it was true, though we do not know when Jesus will return.

This book is very simple, yet very moving and deeply felt. Later another boy, Luke, arrived and the story ends with the happiness of daily family life. An unusual book, which will certainly affect and help many others. (Louis Hemmings’ earlier book is still available, from the same publisher, as a free pdf on request.)