Child's spirit lives on in print; After the death of their 4-year-old
daughter in a freak accident, a couple discovers a message of hope to extend to
other bereaved parents and children; [North Shore Final , NS Edition]
Meg McSherry Breslin, Tribune staff reporter.
Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: Nov 12, 2004. pg. 3
(Copyright 2004 by the Chicago Tribune)
The 4-year-old girl with blond hair looks beautiful standing outside the ice cream shop, her sparkling blue eyes gazing toward a double rainbow.
The image was so perfect, her dad picked up a video camera and began taping.
But that gorgeous summer day more than three years ago ended in tragedy as Olivia, nicknamed Lulu, stepped on the bottom of a metal bike rack. The rack toppled onto her, crushing her heart while her mom, dad and two brothers watched.
Lulu's parents, Warren and Gretchan Pyne, were more than in shock over the death.
"This is the most horrific thing that can happen to a human being," Gretchan Pyne said. "I didn't know such pain existed."
Somehow, though, the Massachusetts couple have found a way to climb out of their grief to share some insights about tragedy and loss.
The couple are spending part of this week in Chicago, meeting with officials of a parent and child bereavement group at Children's Memorial Hospital, and with leaders of Rainbows, a Rolling Meadows- based group for children who've experienced the death of a loved one or a divorce.
The couple share the self-published children's book Gretchan Pyne wrote in honor of her daughter. The book, "Lulu's Rose Colored Glasses," is generating more attention than the couple ever expected, just by word of mouth, and is helping many families cope with tragedies.
The story recounts a gloomy day that Lulu and her mother shared inside the family car. Gretchan Pyne had complained about the gray clouds, but her daughter picked up a pair of rose-colored glasses and persuaded her mom to try them on. She did and saw the world as a more rosy, more hopeful place.
It was a simple message that Lulu gave her mother that day, but it hit home over time. As the mother tried to find reasons to live after her daughter's death, the story kept coming back to her.
At book signings and during visits to hospitals and support groups, the Pynes' message gains poignancy as they share the immense pain they experienced.
Both 41, they retreated inside themselves after Lulu died. Warren Pyne spent hours at her gravesite, in counseling sessions, and still sometimes enters her room to sit in the rocking chair and let the memories flood over him.
Gretchan Pyne has moved her office into her daughter's room. Lulu's sheets have never been washed, and her mother reaches to Lulu's clothes to recall her daughter's scent.
Even through that pain, their daughter's words continue to instill hope in the Pynes. Through the book, they hope to spread Lulu's belief in the power of living in the moment.
"I just believe her life, her death is about this message," Gretchan Pyne said.
"Lulu's Rose Colored Glasses," published in December, has sold 10,000 copies, many through orders from the family's Web site, lulubellebooks.com.
On Saturday, Gretchan Pyne will sign books, with rose-colored glasses attached, at a Borders bookstore in northwest suburban Algonquin.
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