The Sheeran family, May 2014.
Kerry Sheeran looks normal. She sounds normal. For the past six years, however, her life has been anything but “normal.” She and her husband Tom, who live in East Greenwich, are the parents of six children – ages 9, 7, 6 and 3-year-old triplets. The triplets are a story all by themselves, but it’s the birth of their third child, Emma, that prompted Kerry to write a book, “The Marathon,” released in April.
Emma Sheeran came into the world 10 weeks early, facing multiple problems – with her intestines, her esophagus, her trachea, her kidneys, her heart – a full plate of complications for a baby weighing all of 3 pounds, 8 ounces. For Kerry and Tom, it was a complete shock. They were healthy people. Their families were healthy. Where did this come from?
So began the journey Kerry captures in her book – a compelling story weaving Emma’s harrowing first months with the story of Tom’s running of the 2009 Boston Marathon in her honor.
Each mile of the race brings another chapter of Emma’s – and their – story.
“I call it a novel because it’s a memoir that reads like a novel,” Kerry explained. “I wanted to tell this story in a certain way. The whole time with Emma, I didn’t know if she was going to make it. I wanted to bring the reader on that ride.”
Kerry wrote the book in the third person, through both her and husband’s eyes. It’s effective and the book is remarkably candid. Kerry is not afraid to admit her or Tom’s shortcomings. It had to be that way, she said.
“I couldn’t tell the whole story without telling the whole story,” Kerry said. Sometimes that means Kerry “snaps” in response to people and Tom drives too fast and tries to sneak a cigarette. They get frustrated with the situation and with each other at times. It’s a real account of a real couple in crisis.
Kerry said she initially started writing the book for her kids, wanting to let them know that sometimes life gets hard but “here are some tools on how to get through the tough times.”
She had another reason to write – to chronicle her own faith journey.
“Before all this happened, I was under the belief that if I prayed hard enough and I lived my life a certain way, God would answer my prayers,” Kerry said. “Then I sat in the hospital and looked around and saw all these kids suffering and somebody rocking their dead child in the next bay. How could this have been planned from this higher power?”
It forced a change in her thinking.
“Instead of having faith that God was going to make everything okay, fix everything that needed to be fixed and answer all of my prayers, I had to have faith that no matter what ended up happening – even if it was the worst of the worst – that somehow I, we, would get through it and be able to continue on,” said Kerry. “That’s where all the love and support would come in. That, I realized, was the only way I would be able to get through something so difficult.”
But how does a mother with six young children write a book?
“I did it during nap time and in the middle of the night for the last two years,” she said. “I’d actually piece the story in my head while I was out running.”
Response to the book has been very rewarding, she said, noting she’d heard from mothers, people inspired to revisit their faith, and people in AA, among others.
“This has surpassed anything I ever imagined.”
Happily for her readers, Kerry said she’s planning to write a second book, this one about the triplets.
You can learn more about Kerry and “The Marathon” here. A portion of the proceeds of “The Marathon” will be donated to Boston Children’s Hospital.
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