Author: Keven Fletcher
Published: June 7th 2016 by Elevate Fiction
Disconnected, arrogant, and a little too fond of scotch, Simon drifts through the routines of his day, garnering the praise that sustains him. Decades of experience provide a menu of phrases and gestures to soothe and gently manipulate those in his care. His pastoral gifts are particularly evident when he presides at funerals, where he savors equally the admiration of onlookers and the extra paycheck.
Simon’s only point of tension rests with his nineteen year old daughter, Ailish, whom he loves but no longer enjoys. Both are resigned to their cohabitation, enduring as they wait for the day she completes her degree and they are released.
A knock on the office door interrupts the uniformity of his days, when an unfamiliar child challenges Simon over his handling of a eulogy. Transfixed by her unlikely maturity, he continues to listen, even as the child relates a wisdom story. By the time she departs, Simon finds himself no clearer about her identity and far less certain of his own.
With each subsequent interaction with the dying and their families, Simon encounters another enigmatic visitor who compels him to break routines and delve more deeply into his own life and relationships.
The first thought that came to mind when I read the first chapter was: Why didn’t I read this sooner? I really regret not choosing this book to read as soon as I got it. But at the same time, I was thinking that perhaps there were reasons why I chose this specific moment to get around to reading it. A day after I started to read When It Matters Most, news came that an uncle to whom my family was rather close with had passed away. I immediately remembered the wisdom stories that I’ve read in the book and this line spoke the loudest to me:
“… it’s not a question of having more time or less time. It’s about what you do with the time you have- what you’re doing now…”
When It Matters Most is easily the book which makes quite an impact on me. Simon started off as arrogant and materialistic and his relationship with his daughter, Ailish, is less of a father-daughter relationship and more of a tolerant one. In some ways, I understand how it got to that; usually a mother is the person holding the family together, take her away and the family crumbles. Simon’s family is very close to crumbling indeed.
As the story progresses, the differences seen in Simon is evident. Albeit slowly, Simon changes into someone who opens up his heart more to understand why certain choices were made and actions taken instead of making assumptions. Although Simon was just another character, the author, Keven Fletcher, writes the story in such a way that I was able to relate to him. And it was because I was able to relate to Simon that I could really rejoice when subtle changes take place in him. For example, at the beginning of the book, Simon posed questions to the relatives of the deceased with the intention of simply getting to know the person. A few stories later, I see him forming the questions in his mind first before asking, questions to prompt the children of the deceased person to try to see their parent in a new light and to try to understand them. Simon became more insightful; all because he made the choice to listen to the story that the first messenger had to tell.
I believe that the stories told to Simon not only helped him repair his relationship with his daughter, they also helped him when he was grieving. Through this book, I realised that it was alright to be overwhelmed with the emotions that come with every high and low of life. After all, this too will pass.
Turning to the fourteen stories of wisdom, there were a couple which I was familiar with; others I found equally insightful and draws the readers to try to understand how the stories can impact their daily lives. As the book says, any one story does not have one right interpretation, but it depends on how it impacts us in any situation we are in. As I reach the end of When It Matters Most, I know in my heart that when I read this book for the second and third time, I will be able to see each of the fourteen stories in a different light. Each of the stories I liken to precious gems that I will take out every once in a while and hold them to the sunlight to ponder on their many facets.
There are quite a number of quotes that I’ve found true but there was one which I particularly loved:
“The value of any story lies not in itself, but in the degree to which were impacted.”
When It Matters Most taught me to value the people by my side and to spend as much time as I can with them. As the saying goes, time and tide waits for no man; I have no idea when my story will come to an end, so I want to live the story God has written for and is guiding me on and I, in turn want to treasure every character that is sent my way.
I would recommend this book to everyone from all walks of life. I would press it into the hands of those grieving and those joyful. Just as this story made an impact on me, I’m sure that it will impact others.
I would like to thank the author, Keven Fletcher, for penning such an extraordinary book and to Emily Benson from Elevate Publishing for providing me with this book.