When a loved one passes it seems as though the world stops. For mother-daughter duo Angela and Amaya Allen, their world continued on for the better.
After the passing of her father in May 2014, a then seven-year-old Amaya wanted to help kids experiencing the same thing that she was. That help came in the form of a picture book co-written by herself and her mother Angela.
“As a seven-year-old, I wasn’t really thinking about how this would affect my family because I didn’t think it was going to happen,” a now 11-year-old Amaya said. “I realized that kids go through the same thing that I do so I wanted to help them through that because I didn’t have that help.”
“A Place Far Away” features an eight-year-old named Mackayla who found out about the death of her father directly after a dance recital. Mackayla refuses to dance ever again but after a mystical journey led by a lightning bug named Sparkie to find the rest of the charms to a bracelet left by her father, she finds the strength to continue on.
While Mackayla found it difficult to move forward with her life, Amaya and Angela found the strength to move past the death of their father and husband.
“At the end of the day, we knew that the world was not going to stop because we loss one person,” Amaya said.
Angela added that when Amaya would miss her father they would handle the feelings upfront and try to move past it.
“We ate pancakes. We watched videos, looked at pictures I told her funny stories and then we moved past the feelings because feelings are fleeting,” Angela said.
To Angela, addressing the pain and the void felt by a passed loved one is necessary for healing. In “A Place Far Away,” kids have the chance to fill in blank pages with how they are feeling with their favorite memory with their passed loved one and more. Angela thought it was a good addition in order to allow readers to openly express their feelings.
“[Amaya and I] were in grief counseling classes and a lot of the tools that we learned, [we’re] facing and speaking about things that hurt [instead of] burying and suppressing it,” Angela said.
Angela shared that her faith played a large role in moving on and even published a book titled “The Bitter Taste of Grief, A Widows Prayer Journal,” that showcases how to persevere through grief through Biblical teachings.
“We didn’t want [our emotions] to turn into a depression which a lot of kids and women face having to take different medications and suicidal thoughts and all sorts of things,” Angela said. “We learned to deal with the feelings, talk about it and then move past it because the peace that God left – because we are Christians – is very present and has rested on us daily.”
Over the year and a half process, “A Place Far Away” has become a beacon of hope for children facing the loss of a loved one.
“We have gotten a lot of great feedback from children who have experienced it and children who know Amaya and can now empathize with her. The feedback has been great,” Angela said.
While Amaya is just like any normal 11-year-old who is going into the sixth grade in the Fall, loves to dance and has hopes of being an architect or a professional dancer when she is older, she is also a published author but doesn’t feel as though it’s that big of a feat.
“Honestly I feel like it’s just another step forward. I’m happy to always help people. I’ve always been a helpful person, Amaya said. “I feel like I’m not going to be a Dr. Suess or anything but it just feels good to help other people with their problems.”
With the future shining down right in front of them, Angela and Amaya have hopes of completing another book similar to “A Place Far Away” but this time from a boy’s perspective and hope to start the brainstorming process this summer.
Amaya and Angela will be hosted at Zahra’s Books n Things on Saturday, June 30 at 4 p.m. where they will be signing copies of “A Place Far Away.” The book, “A Place Far Away” can be purchased at Zahra’s Books n Things or online at www.angelaandamaya.com.