Notes Left Behind by Brooke and Keith Desserich
I cried the entire way through Notes Left Behind by Brooke and Keith Desserich (orginally 2008, republished 2009).
Originally written as a private journal to chronicle the last days of their daughter Elena's life, a family member suggested they post the journal entries online instead of making lengthy nightly calls to various loved ones with updates.
Thinking no one besides family and friends would find them at a site address based on their unusual last name, they went ahead--only to find that they had a following of strangers, too.
Here's a clip from an article and interview from AOL Living that you can read in full here:
Now the book has been republished, this time by publishing giant Harper Collins, and is filled with greater detail. A journal of Elena's last days -- written for her younger sister, Gracie -- the book brings two parents' love for their child from the abstract, unconditional love we all feel, to the simple joy of reading bedtime stories and singing lullabies.
Named for the love letters Elena left scattered throughout the Desserich's Ohio home, reminding them she loved "Mom, Dad, Gracie," "Notes Left Behind" is its own love letter. And with profits from the sale of the book going to The Cure Starts Now, a foundation to fund pediatric brain cancer research, they're sharing the love with future generations.
Even without having a five-year-old daughter, I think this would be a difficult read for most readers--painful and bittersweet. Because I do have my daughter, this was a completely devastating read.
I can only see the book and their efforts to raise funds for cancer research as the ultimate tribute to Elena by Brooke and Keith Desserich, loving parents who are using their experience to aid others.
My overall personal rating of Notes Left Behind is an A.