When I received this book in the mail, I was drawn to it above other writing projects and book reviews I had ahead of this book. I wasn't sure if it was my Upstate NY connection, I was in college when the Bills dominated the NFL and everyone knew who Jim Kelly was and that he eventually married and that one of his children was very ill.
I didn't know if the draw was because I'm aware of Jill's faith in Christ and that I saw her speak years ago at an event where her story gave me perspective and comfort during a dark period in my life.
Or was the draw simply that it was going to be an amazing story to read.
Perhaps it is all of these things but Without a Word is one I read in one sitting, soaking up the highs and lows Jill Kelly shares regarding her life as a wife and mom. Most of the book is a moving and emotional tribute to the life and impact of their son, Hunter. Hunter passed away at age 8 from Krabbe Leukodystrophy, a fatal gentic disease. As the title suggests, Hunter never uttered a verbal word but even in these years since his passing, his life speaks volumes.
Jill simply does an anointed job bringing the unconditional love lessons packaged in Hunter to life. What she shares is beyond good writing, I could sense that she asked for and received God's help every step of the way. I learned so much about perspective, about Krabbe Leukodystrophy, how terminal illness affects those who love Hunter.
Not only is Jill transparent in all the ups and downs of this journey, but Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly reveals his experiences as well. Buffalo will always think of Jim Kelly as a hero for his football deeds but I'm telling you, a real man showed up in this book. He is very honest and admits sharing what he does goes against what men, especially athletic men are trained to do. Again, reading his words gave me great perspective.
Their daughters also share their thoughts and the foundation of faith and the harsh reality of losing someone you love is all through their words, too. I won't be surprised if these girls one day have an international platform to help others based on their time with Hunter.
This is also a story about marriage--not just a high profile marriage, but a real one. Statistically marriages that lose a child or even have a chronically ill child face high divorce rates. It's amazing what God has done through their marriage and I believe again, a perspective any marriage could draw from.
This book was authentic, full of love, faith, reality, beautiful friendships, confessions, heartbreak and redemption.
It will remain a favorite book I will not soon forget.
( I received this book from Hachette Publishers in return for an honest review)