Christmas Presence

A review of THE GREATER WEIGHT OF GLORY - A Memoir by Robin Farnsworth

It’s Christmas Day. The house is quiet, all the debris from last night’s huge family party has been efficiently smashed into trash cans, refrigerators, or recycling bins. The tree is lit, fireplace crackling. My husband is gone, having picked up a shift at the hospital, whose floors he has walked for forty-five years - allowing a co-worker with small children the bliss of a Santa celebration. I’m going to cozy-in and read.

With an unknown sense of providence, I pick up Robin Farnsworth’s THE GREATER WEIGHT OF GLORY – A Memoir (October 2017) and start to read.

“That’s my son – three words that swept away everything familiar from Robin Farnsworth’s life. An emergency room nurse at work one night, she identifies the dead man on an ER stretcher. Spencer, her 21-year-old son, was the unintended target of a murder…”

A voice within her asks, Will you forgive his killers? And so the journey begins.

Within moments, I’m swept up in story told with the raw honesty and emotion that having nothing left to lose gives a person. Every trauma, fault, mistake, and triumph is stated in pure, ego-bereft prose, laid bare for all to see. Though the pivotal moment of her son’s death takes place in an emergency room in Hyannis, Massachusetts in 2002, the journey begins in Farnsworth’s own childhood in 1964, with the death of her brother, initiating a pain that overlaps – as is the case with all mothers - onto the lives of her children.

I am transfixed by her honesty. She paints (a word I hesitate to use for fear you mistake this frank retelling of her life as a creation of color and not truths) a picture of herself as a broken person, struggling to make her way through bad decisions, relationships, sorrows, addictions, and depression. Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. -J Joplin. Somewhere along the rocky road through New York, the Carolinas, Alaska, and finally to the desolate life of a single mother wintering in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, she is saved and turns her life to God. The messages she hears from the Divine are clear and few. You need to forgive your father.

To be so broken and then rescued by the Lord didn’t give her an easy path – a quick fix. It gave her more questions than answers. It gave her shelter. It gave her community. It gave her strength to live through a mother’s worst nightmare. Eventually, it gave her the ability to forgive the men who had murdered her son.

THE GREATER WEIGHT OF GLORY is the story of courage and human frailty. As the reader, I assumed I knew where Farnsworth’s journey would take me. I was wrong. I couldn’t put the book down until the last page was read – every word devoured, some twice.

This memoir will leave you with a lightness of spirit unimaginable for an account surrounding the death of a child. It is a must read for reasons you can’t yet imagine.

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