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'My Love Will Follow You There': Parents who lost son pen children's book on dying

Two years ago, Woodstock, Ont. parents Carla and Mark Garrett lost their seven-year-old son to brain cancer. Talking to him about his own death prompted the couple to write and illustrate a book called, 'My Love will Follow You There.'

Carla and Mark Garrett lost their seven-year-old son to cancer two years ago

Xavier Garrett passed away two years ago. He was seven years old. (Submitted by the Garrett family)

Just shy of his eighth birthday, Xavier Garrett of Woodstock, Ont. lost his battle with brain cancer.

His parents, Carla and Mark Garrett did their best to prepare Xavier for the inevitable, but it was tough.

"It's hard to look a seven-year-old in the eye and tell him that he's going to be going somewhere. Words can't describe it," said Mark Garrett in an interview with London Morning host Rebecca Zandbergen.

"I'm sure it was a mumbled bunch of mess that I said to him. But in that time, my pain clouded my mind and my thoughts," said Carla Garrett.

Following Xavier's death, the Garretts wrote and illustrated a book for kids who are dying, called 'My Love Will Follow You There.'

The book, 'My Love Will Follow You There' was written by Carla Garrett and illustrated by her husband Mark.

"That's why this book is so important now because it helps find those words," said Carla Garrett.

"This book is more than just talking about death with your child, but talking about their death, which makes it very different than a lot of other books that are out there...It's helping parents find the words to give their child permission to die and to gently guide them through that space between here and the place we go to next."

Xavier is survived by his twin sister, Mackenzie.

So far, the Garretts have printed 100 copies of the book, which have been mailed out to hospitals, hospices and families around Canada and the United States. The couple's dream is to give the books to families for free.

"We want to lovingly reassure them that they're loved even if they choose to go...We want it to bring comfort to the child who's suffered long enough and needs to hear it's okay to fly now," explained Carla Garrett, who says she misses her son's smile every day.

Getting help to publish

Printing the books is costly though. A GoFundMe campaign raised the money to get the first books off the printer, but Mark Garrett said they'll need help to print more.

"We need companies, whether they're local or national to come forward to help fund these books. Our intention, our main goal is to make this resource available to anyone who needs it. We're not making any money off this book. If someone is purchasing a book, that money goes right back into printing new books," said Mark Garrett.

Mark, Mackenzie, Xavier and Carla Garrett (Submitted by the Garrett family)

Mark and Carla Garrett both say they miss their son's laugh and smile the most.

"Xavier was a loveable boy. His smile and laugh would just melt your heart. He loved music and he liked to read. He loved his video games. We miss him everyday," said Mark Garrett through tears.

"I can hear him still."

Mark and Carla Garrett appeared on London Morning on Monday, September 9. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)
Carla and Mark Garrett of Woodstock, Ont. lost their son Xavier to cancer at age 7. The experience prompted them to write the children's book no parent wants to read to their child. The book called My Love Will Follow You is about helping a child understand they are dying. 7:33

About the Author

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 15 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna.