At first glance, on the side-lines of a suburban spring soccer field, the Sheeran family looks like any other family cheering their daughter, as she runs with her teammates, advancing the soccer ball to the goal.
Six-years ago, the snapshot would look very different. In The Marathon, a true story, Kerry Sheeran provides us with an up-close and intimate view of a time when her family life was far from routine. In her book, The Marathon, Kerry takes the reader on an emotional journey as she and her husband Tom, learn in the third trimester, their unborn baby girl has significant health concerns needing immediate attention.
The Marathon is a spiritual journey told through a series of letters and in a combination of Kerry and husband Tom’s perspective as he prepares to run the Boston Marathon; each mile of the race is paired with a narrative relating to the emotional and at times uncertain, journey of daughter Emma’s entrance into the world. Kerry opens her heart and her world so we the reader can see an up-close intimate view as she tackles extremes in parenthood, marriage, faith and long-distance running.
I had a chance to talk with Kerry about the evolution of her experience into what we see years later, her book, The Marathon.
Kerry, can you tell us about what inspired you to turn your experience with your daughter into a book? How did it start?
After Emma and the triplets came along, I started running. Some days I just needed to take a break and get out of my house. When I ran I rarely listened to music; the thoughts in my head kept me occupied. The unexpected turns in my life were always at the forefront. Our stories would play out in my head. For a year and a half, while I ran, I marveled at the journey my family, and I had traveled – how everything fit together. Eventually, I was certain it was a unique story that needed to be shared. It came together like a big puzzle and running helped me figure out the pieces.
Can you tell us about the therapeutic benefit of writing about your experience?
The experience with Emma was a long, unexpected, frightening time for me as a mother. I kept myself isolated – especially in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I did not want to let anyone into my world, nor be introduced into anyone else’s. I was in a sad, difficult place. It wasn’t until I began to open up to the people around me: doctors, nurses, and families with other children also in the NICU -that I started to crawl out of the dark hole I was in. There was so much comfort in the connections I made through other people’s stories – it’s really when the healing began. When I started writing this book, there were things I wrote about that I never discussed with anyone. Writing gave me a chance to release what I had pushed deep down in my core. I cried a lot when I wrote, probably because it was such a relief to let them go. Women, Mothers especially, are sometimes programmed to portray perfection – the idea that we’re holding it all together. I felt good to tell the truth – that mothers can be angry, jealous, naïve and sad – and that it’s completely okay. Pretending we do not feel certain things does not help us as mothers. If we don’t acknowledge our feelings, how can we expect to work through them? Sure, my story is personal, but once I realized how inspirational it could be to someone else suffering through a similar situation – sharing it became a no-brainer. Another benefit to writing was it gave me a chance to express my infinite gratitude. People hear about Emma and ask me, “How did you get through it?” The answer is written on the pages of my book. Describing the love and support others gave me during that time was a testament to mankind. It never hurts to be reminded that people are inherently good. It’s important to let them know how much their words and gestures (big or small) pulled me through my most difficult days.
What suggestions would you give other moms who have a story to tell?
- Make sure you are ready to tell it.
- Be completely honest.
- Remember that your journey – no matter what it is – is meaningful and unique.
Being a mom to six children, including a set of triplets, we want to know-how did you find the time to write?
I wrote over the course of two years during the babies’ naptime. Every week I would set goals for myself; write two pages a day/five days a week. When the first draft was written, I set editing goals. I was pretty determined to finish, but there was a handful of times when I severely doubted myself. If it weren’t for a couple of friends who encouraged me to keep going – I probably wouldn’t have completed it. Aside from my husband, it was always the women in my life who kept encouraging me to write.
Thank you Kerry for taking the time and having the courage to share your story, it is truly an inspirational story.
Thank you! My ultimate goal with this book is to help and inspire women, parents and families who may find themselves in an experience similar to ours.
As a psychologist, mother and person, I continue to be humbled by the human experience of stories; life is complex with all of its joys and triumphs, sorrow and pain, loneliness and fear. One can not go through life without creating a story. We all have stories. Sometimes the narrative of our life is obvious, other times, hidden. The reality, we never know what a person has gone through or what they have endured.
Do you have a story from your life waiting to be told? I would encourage you to consider writing your story. Don’t focus on the grammar or getting the sentences right, that is not the focus here. Write your story, even if it is just for you. The power of writing your story can have a dramatic impact in your life, in your healing, and the healing of others. Well done Kerry!
If you would like to read more about Kerry and The Marathon, please visit www.KerrySheeran.com or go to www.Amazon.com if you would like to purchase her book. A portion of all proceeds from the book will be donated to Boston Children’s Hospital directly in support of prenatal and neonatal care.