I love to read, but I don’t always have a lot of time – so, when I came across this book, Holding Fast by Karen James, I immediately thought of my husband.
He loves reading adventure books about mountain climbing and other outdoor adventures. I knew I was looking at something he might enjoy reading. He was thrilled when I presented it to him. He read it fairly quickly and for some reason, he put it back on my desk.
I kept looking at it thinking I really didn’t want to read about mountain climbing; I have no interest in doing things like that. I don’t understand why you would want to risk your life and be out in the elements like that. Anyway, the last few weeks, winter has been really miserable here. I was pretty much housebound; so I thought why not! I curled up under my blankets on the couch last night and began reading Holding Fast. I finished it in one sitting. This book is a love story. It tells about Kelly James as a child you learn he had a difficult time in his younger years and he had a strong mother. It tells about how he and Karen met and fell in love. You learn the first time he said “I love you” to her was on a mountain. You also learn that sadly his last “I love you” to her was on the mountain that took him from her.
Yes, you only get to see the really good side of Kelly James. The climber that was lost to Mount Hood in a climb that would take his and two others lives. But I believe as a wife, that is what you remember when dealing with the death of your husband. We all know there is no one, not a husband (or wife) that is ever perfect. I know if I had found myself in the same situation – I too would remember the good qualities – it’s what keeps you afloat as you navigate through deep grief.
A significant lesson I took from this book is to embrace your friends and community. Karen’s friends, family and the community at large were there for this family in wonderful ways as they dealt with everything that was coming at them full force. The friends she had surrounding her were priceless during her grief. Reading this – I feel like I have seen the ups and downs of going through grief when dealing with a loved one that has died. I have dealt with different periods of grief in my own life – and I know how hard the ups and downs are – they hit you like a ton of bricks and when you least expect it. At times, you feel as if you are being swallowed up by a black hole. Karen James shares those feelings with her readers. You travel with her through the week of search and rescue as well as the many months of pain and discovery after they found Kelly’s body on the mountain. Even though I knew the outcome – I found myself hoping he would be found alive. I cried as I read parts and smiled as I read others. He truly loved her. She truly loved him – sadly, that too is rare. She was blessed to have had a marriage that very few get to experience.
I was left feeling so sad that their journey together was cut short by this tragedy. I also felt happy for Karen because she knew how much her husband loved her even in his last moments alive – even in his death; he left her signals of his love for her. However, this isn’t the only love story written about in this book. Karen in a gentle, non-pushy way describes her journey through life with Kelly and after his death and how important God was to him and to her before, after, during and in recovery. She shares how her faith carried her through some of the darkest moments. She knew Kelly was not afraid of death. That gave her great peace – she knew he was with God. He loved God and had great faith.
We can’t always understand why bad things happen. She shares that God will guide us through the difficult times if we just let him. I cannot imagine having to deal with something like this and not having your faith. Over time, she comes to realize that God isn’t finished with her yet and that is why she is here. I hope she finds success in doing God’s will in her life because her journey is not over! I highly recommend this book – it’s a nice mix of, adventure, faith and love. We also get to see something that’s been spread all over the news in a more personal, significant way – the behind the scenes reality of dealing with something that becomes so public. I highly recommend Holding Fast by Karen James.
Interview with Katie Couric:
Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers.