Book Review | Cole…I Love You to the Moon and Back by Aaron Dean Ruotsala
Title: Cole…I love You to the Moon and Back
Author: Aaron Dean Ruotsala
My girls are the most important people in my life and I can’t even begin to fathom how I would feel if I were suddenly to learn that one of them was dying. I knew, when I began reading Cole…I Love You to the Moon and Back: A family’s journey with Childhood Cancer, it was going to be a difficult book to read because of the subject. I anticipated that this book, written by Cole’s father, Aaron Dean Ruotsala, would be heart-wrentching and depressing. I had no idea that while the former was true, I was completely wrong about my second assumption.
Aaron starts the book by talking about Cole and the enjoyable times that they had in the weeks leading up to Cole’s diagnosis. Cole, an active three-year-old, is described as a fun-loving little boy who enjoyed spending time with his famly and friends doing activities such as swimming and fishing.
One evening, after some family adventures, Cole complained of a “owie” in his stomach. After mulling over the decision (and the cost) of going to the hospital, they decided to take him there. Little did they realize that it would be the start of a journey that would ultimately mark the end of Cole’s life.
As they were grappling with all of the tests, and the eventual diagnosis of a rare and fatal form of cancer, Aaron’s cousin offered to build a website to ask people to pray for Cole. Aaron admits, at the time, he didn’t give the request much thought and thanked her for doing so. Over time, however, he learned how amazing the power of the internet, and the magnitude of Cole’s story, would touch people worldwide and over half a million would ultimately visit the site, many leaving messages of care and concern and reflections on how Cole’s experience had a personal impact on their lives. Some of these message are interspersed throughout the book as Aaron tells the story of his family.
This story, while incredibly sad, is also inspirational because it conveys the story of Cole’s illness and the impact that his experience had others (both those who knew him personally,such as his family, and those who followed his journey through the Caring Bridge’s website). I enjoyed the fact that Aaron added so many of the emails that people sent through Caring Bridges because it gave another perspective to Cole’s experience as it helped others to deal with their own isses and, in some cases, to rekindle their relationship with God. I loved the fact that Aaron and his family have set up a website to help others at http://www.colesfoundation.com. I went to visit their site and found an amazing network of families helping each other by providing many different types of support.
I appreciated other elements of Aaron’s book about Cole as well. I felt that it was a real testament to Cole’s life and the impact that his illness had on others. I also found that Aaron was amazingly honest, even going so far as to admit he had a sex addiction problem that was in stark contrast with his strong Christian beliefs. As an individual who was raised in a Christian household (though no longer active in the Church), I found it difficult at times to grasp the idea that God had wanted Cole to die for a greater good. Aaron also expresses some strong fundamental beliefs in the book (such as pro-life comment in the beginning of the book) that I found difficult to relate to, though I understood why had had chosen to discuss these ideas given the context of the book.
Though, as I mentioned, the story of Cole’s illness is incredibly sad, I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the story of Cole’s life, the impact he had on others and his legacy. This true testament to the strength of his family and the courage shown by this little boy has inspired me!
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinons expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.*