I first met Kavin in a college band class six or seven years ago. I say “met”, but I sadly don’t remember talking to Kavin all that much. He was more my husband’s friend than my own, but somewhere along the way, we became Facebook friends, where I kept with his family and he kept up with mine.
Through a thin screen, I scrolled through Kavin and Betsy’s wedding photos, Kavin’s humorous musician jokes, and later their pregnancy announcement, joyfully sharing the news that they were pregnant with their son, Asher.
It brings tears to my eyes remembering the day I saw Kavin’s post about their heartbreaking loss, so very close to Betsy’s due date. I vividly remember calling Kyle while he was at work, tears blurring my words, asking if he saw Kavin’s post. We both shed tears that day for Kavin and Betsy, and for Asher, too.
I do not know the Lord’s reason behind the Ley’s loss, but I know that God used Kavin’s writing talent to aid me through our own loss, and I’m absolutely sure that I’m not the only one. His book is many things, but especially raw, powerful, and transforming.
For this reason, I asked Kavin if I could interview him for my blog about his book, Asher, My Son. Readers and friends alike, meet Kavin Ley.
For those who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a husband and father, first and foremost. Our first child, Asher Joseph, was stillborn at 35 weeks. He remains a major part of our lives, though we do not get to watch him grow up. He has been an inspiration to us and to so many more through his too-short life.
Besides devoting the majority of my life to my family, I am also a middle school band director. My wife Betsy and I are both musicians and music is a key element to our life together. We currently live in Auburn, Indiana with our two mini-dachshunds, Leo and Louie. As I write these words, we are expecting the birth of our second son, Bryn Anderson, tomorrow and will be in our arms by the time this is published!
Can you tell us more about your book, Asher, My Son?
When I received the call from Betsy that Asher had died, I had an instinctual awareness that writing was going to be my main coping mechanism to help with my grief. Asher, My Son is the published version of the journal that I created through my first year of being a childless father. When I began writing, I didn't know if I was writing for me or for someone else--I just wrote to fully express what I was feeling and to document all that was to come so I would never forget the important details of our grief journey. After I had written for a few months, I found that what I was writing could--and should--be shared with other people, particularly fathers who had also lost children. I wanted to use my raw, uncensored feelings to communicate what a man goes through with the loss of his child. There are some resources available for loss fathers, but very few. I felt that my journal could be a useful tool for others.
What sort of emotions carried you through the publishing process? I’m sure there was a wide array publishing a book so raw and near to your family’s heart.
Beyond the grief that all those dealing with loss feel, I experienced apprehension and hope while writing and publishing Asher, My Son. Because the book is literally my journal, my heart and soul was poured into the pages. I made known all of the sadness, anger, grief, joy, and anxiety that I experienced after losing my son. I was apprehensive to share that with the world in such an open manner. Very personal experiences were written about and I needed to weigh whether or not the experiences were something that needed to be shared. I eventually came to share everything so my candor could help other people (men in particular) see what a father's grief is. In addition to the apprehension though, I had a good amount of hope. Hope that my words could bring understanding, hope that my experiences could bring empathy, hope that Asher's story could effect change and help others.
What was a goal you hoped to accomplish when putting your journal out into public eye?
More than anything, I wanted to help others. Even if it was only one person, it would have been worth it. I know from interactions I've had with those who have read my book (including complete strangers) that Asher's story has had an impact on them. I've heard from multiple people that reading my journal has helped them cope with miscarriage, stillbirth, and other losses of their own. I've heard from others that they now feel they can communicate more easily with those they love who are experiencing grief. I've heard from others still that my book has helped them to become more empathetic to other difficult situations. I already feel that I accomplished my goal for publishing my journal. I only hope that it can continue to be a resource to help others.
What is something you hope readers can take from your book?
I hope that readers take a piece of Asher with them when they read my book. While readers can find help with communication, help experiencing grief effectively, and comfort knowing that others has lived through this most difficult of journeys, I simply want people to carry a small piece of my first son with them in their hearts. I know it's selfish to want that most of all, but as any parent would agree, I love my son and am proud of him. I want others to know him as well as we do.
To anyone who has gone through the indescribable pain of infant loss, what is one thing you would tell them?
Experience and express your feelings fully. Suppressing any emotions--good, bad, or neutral--is unhelpful and unwise. If you are in a situation in which you cannot fully express your emotions, be sure to communicate them when you are back in a safe space. Bring your support system close to you and don't hold back. If you don't have a solid, reliable support system, find one. Reach out to family and friends, join a support group, participate in online groups, email me if you have to (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Fully express your emotions so you can move through them, rather than letting them weigh you down.
Do you have any more books on the horizon?
I do have some ideas for writing a pregnancy and parenting after loss book from a father's perspective. Such a resource doesn't really exist, but it's another journey that fathers often take without the support of other loss fathers.
Beyond that, I have some silly ideas of children's books featuring my mischievous dogs and a few other fiction ideas to write for fun. Nothing may come of those ideas, but it's always fun to dream!
If you’d like to read Kavin’s book, you can purchase it via Amazon HERE.