A mom who lost her first and only child to cancer has written a touching children’s book in memory of her daughter.
Chelsey Whittle, mother of Lilee-Jean Frances Whittle Putt, released her self-published book, The Ordinary Girl, just before Christmas.
“It’s about a girl who lives an ordinary life and one day she wakes up and things are a little bit different,” she says.
Whittle is a regular blogger, and she loves to write, but she admits that writing this book was a bit difficult.
“It was challenging as a writer,” she says.
Lilee-Jean passed away from a cancerous brain tumour in September of 2013, just three months before her third birthday.
“She was my ordinary little girl who was thrown into something extraordinary,” says Whittle.
The following Christmas in 2014, Whittle wanted to show her family how much she appreciated their help and support over the years. She also wanted her current and future nieces and nephews to know about little Lilee-Jean.
“It was a way of saying thank you to my family,” she says. “I was having a hard time trying to figure out how to share her through my nieces and nephews, so what better way than through a book?”
The original copies of The Ordinary Girl were written, printed and personalized for each family member.
“The original was difficult to write in the sense that I wanted everyone to feel important.”
From there, she changed the story a bit and went public with the book.
“Any time I get to speak about her is part of the healing process.”
In The Ordinary Girl, the young girl falls asleep and, with a bit of magic, wakes up in a castle. She meets her fairy godparents who tell her she’s about to go on a quest into “the Grey Forest where all things are lost.” The little girl “must save what’s important, no matter the cost,” reads the book.
Although Whittle says it was challenging, she goes on to say the book “was fun to write, and it rhymes.”
The year following Lilee-Jean’s death was difficult. Whittle relied on family and friends for money and support.
After a year passed, she moved to Banff to live with her dad. She wanted and needed a fresh start. She wanted a job. She wanted to become independent again.
She felt disconnected, not from her daughter but from her past life.
“Writing this helped me bring her and my past into the present,” she says.
Part proceeds from The Ordinary Girl go to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice where Lilee-Jean received her end-of-life care.
Whittle and team Love for Lilee also raise money for BC Children’s Hospital through the annual Race for the Kids fun run.
“It’s nice to keep contributions going to those places that meant so much to us for as long as I can,” says Whittle.
The Ordinary Girl costs $20 and can be purchased at Lulu.com.