A True Story of Grief, Rescue and Grace
by Pam Cope, with Aimee Molloy
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group
If you have ever wondered if one person can really make a difference, then you have not read Jantsen’s Gift by Pam Cope. After the tragic death of her son, Pam, a self described hairdresser, wife and soccer mom was unsure how she was going to live through each day. She was desperate, full of self-loathing, her grief was so enormous, she had no idea how she would ever get out of bed to carry on life without him.
One day, desperate, unable to cope, desolate with grief she has a chat with God,
“I cannot do this anymore. I cannot live this life....I cannot forge a life of meaning from this sorrow. Please, just take me. Or at least tell me: What do you want from me.”
Having learned from her husband Randy that the memorial fund established in her son’s name had grown to twenty five thousand, Pam decides to take a trip to Vietnam with a friend in order to visit orphanages. This initial leap of courage to take a trip that required traveling across the globe away from the comfort zone of Neosho, Missouri was the impetuous that Pam needed to begin her healing.
On her visit she met Vinh Thien a small infant boy, who had been abandoned by his mother. Despite all the many children Pam and Randy had met during their visit, Vinh stood out and without any explanation, she just knew she wanted to take him home. He would ultimately become Van Alan Cope. It was a long arduous process complete with red tape and bureaucratic double talk, but one that would help to show Pam what her path in life was to be. She was never, or seemingly never daunted by the insurmountable odds against everything she tried to implement. Her tenacious will seemed to be driven by a purpose unseen until her son’s death. Through Jantsen’s spirit she learned to live differently, perhaps that was his gift.
Throwing all her energy into saving children, Pam took on nascent roles of speaker, fund-raiser, administrator, Mom Pam (adopted mother), politician, and social worker and director to defend, protect and rescue neglected and abandoned children. She saved hundreds of children from the streets of Vietnam by providing shelter, basic needs and an education.
Pam founded the Touch A Life organization, it’s mission to help save at-risk youths globally. After reading an article in The New York Times in 2006, Pam headed to Northern Ghana to help save children forced into hard labor as slaves. Even though laws against child trafficking are in place, the practice continues without interference from authorities.
Brutally honest, inspirational without preaching, you feel the author’s pain and anguish, you feel her surrender and release, you feel her acceptance and grace.
In her words,
“I never thought that Jantsen’s death would lead me to grace, and it is my hope that nobody ever has to go through what I went through to arrive there. Even writing this book feels like another step away from Jantsen. I do take comfort in the idea that even one more person will get to know a little about him, but the fact that I can write about his death without crawling to my bed and staying there, curled up in my grief for weeks, shows how far I’ve come.”
Highly moving and emotional story of one woman’s struggle to endure loss. Pam Cope’s story is gut wrenching and sad yet offers hope for all of us who look for life’s purpose and what truly matters. Jantsen’s Gift should be on everyone’s wish list.
Disclosure: Thanks to Anna Balasi at Hachette Book Group for this review copy.