Stayed tuned for news of my book signings, upcoming events, projects  and feedback regarding The Last Tear, a memoir.

August 29, 2013

The gestation period has come to fruition and this book is finally ready for release. I am awaiting the "final" author's copy to review before giving the green light to go ahead with production. Some folks have been eager to read the book and have already purchased it on Kindle and ordered hard copies. The first edited version was released on Amazon when the ISBN numbers were registered, and I was concerned that any early purchasers might not receive the final edited version (based on the REV date on the book's title page) but apparently the files have all been updated, so the REV date will coincide with the final edition.


I am amazed at the process of bringing a book to market and must confess that writing it is only half of the story(pardon the pun). Taking a manuscript from the computer and giving it a presence on-line or on paper is equally as challenging and rewarding. It also seems to take almost as much time.

I have learned the nuts and bolts of publishing using Xlibris, and will be better prepared for future projects; what to expect, goals to set, what the terminology means and being concise with all communication. It has been invaluable and I hope has produced a solid book that James would be proud of. 

It feels wonderful to have his / our story finally in a safe place. The pages of journals and loose leaf sheets of paper that held the drama of his final months and my ensuing grief lay about in boxes and files, hence the weaving of those threads into a cohesive tale has brought me great peace. The photos included in the book were carefully chosen (I could have made it a photo book only); I wanted to provide the reader the essence of who James was and how powerfully his walk with cancer, death and his legacy impacted me and the larger community.

The mass email will go out as soon as I can review this final "author's copy", to announce the availability of The Last Tear, a memoir. 


 I thank you in advance for your support of this book and also your nurturing and encouragement while living the story.

Please feel free to leave a review on Amazon.

August 30

I am delighted to announce that the book is officially "released" and now available. The satisfaction is bittersweet as I find myself wanting to share this with James; the cruel irony being that the story only exists because of his absence.

It is now time to promote and share the story. The end of the month and beginning of yet  another new chapter.

September 1

I am overwhelmed by the response for the release of  The Last Tear. Thank you for your encouragement!  I wrote this book in hopes that it would help others and if that is indeed the outcome then I will be very peaceful and know that James's story lives on.

Some folks have expressed interest in purchasing the eBook for their ipads. You need to purchase the eBook through the Xlibris link to get the full option of all reader programs.

Amazon only carries the Kindle version.

September 24

The  response to the release of the book has been wonderful; thank you to everyone who has ordered a copy or picked one up at my recent  private book signings. As I found during the writing of The Last Tear, everyone seems to carry a story of grief and this book appears to be a conduit, allowing them to share. Many tell me it feels as though "permission has been granted" for a dialogue on this subject which please me enormously. This was my intention in penning the tale and sharing it with the wider audience.


It took a while for the books to arrive here in Canada but I now have a number of boxes stacked in a cupboard, and like all projects, seeing the tangible end product feels great. Books have also been shipped to San Francisco and are awaiting my arrival on October 20th.


Having been a recluse for some time now, it did feel odd to put myself back into the public domain these past weeks, but the only way to share the story is for me to be out there talking. My confidence is back and all doubts of ever being able to stand in front a group again have thankfully evaporated.


I am grateful for the time and space that kept me cocooned as I do believe that has helped me regain my strength and balance. Many who have experienced this type of grief have also expressed their relief at retreating for a spell. This is something that we, as a culture, need to understand and value more.


Marketing the book is now the task at hand and I am reaching out to all friends to spread the word. I hope to get some interviews underway and am open to all avenues. If anyone has a lead to newspaper, television or radio opportunities please let me know.


The autumn days are quite spectacular here in Ontario at the moment and I adore the cool breezes  after a humid July and August. Riding my bicycle each day takes me down country roads heavy with the scent of ripe corn and wheat that is in the throes of being harvested. I had not realized how much I missed the seasons living in California for so long;  yet another gift of discovery that was not anticipated.


I will be holding a  public book signing on Saturday, October 5th at Chapters (Masonville) on Fanshawe road from 1-4. Mark it on your calendar and stop by to say hello!

September 29, 2013

The Rev. Dr. Jeff Crittenden at Metropolitan United Church in London, Ontario used The Last Tear as the theme for his homily in today's service. It was a poignant reminder of just how universal the words of loss and longing are. I was moved and gratified that even though a difficult read, the book touches a chord and inspires a larger discourse.  Thank you Jeff and the community at MET for your wonderful encouragement and support.

October 6, 2013


Much has transpired and it feels like I am back running loops on the track. It has taken over 4 years for me to have the energy to face these new challenges and opportunities. When I began the journey of writing The Last Tear I never imagined that one day I'd be capable of meeting the public, signing books, reading aloud to strangers and planning tours to facilitate all this, yet here I am in the midst of such endeavours and James continues to be present and encourages me daily.

The book signing at Chapters yesterday went very well and I had the opportunity to meet some remarkable souls. As continues to be the story, the right people are thrown together at the right time and many shared their story of loss and sorrow with me. Even divorce and separations or lost relationships have their own grief which is important to remember.

The upcoming book launch  in  San Francisco is taking shape nicely. I'll be on the ground October 20- November 3. My dear mother has decided to join me for the first week and she'll be able to see some of the old faces from  past visits.

Book events are in the process of being organized and I will update with the final schedule; October 21 is the first confirmed event. It will be a reading at the Schools of the Sacred Heart, 2222 Broadway  at 6:30 pm. All are welcome to attend.

Autumn colours continue to dazzle on my daily bicycle rides down long country roads. I feel rejuvenated and at peace.

November 3, 2013

The book launch in SF has gone remarkably well and I am thrilled with the response the book is receiving. San Francisco columnist Andy Ross (Matier and Ross) posted a lovely article in today's paper. Scroll down to find the article. It was a glorious surprise to see James' robust smile greeting me this morning.

I have a number of final events here in the city before departing this evening for Canada. At 1:00 I will be recording a tale for Storycorps.

These stories are saved in the Library of Congress and often picked up by NPR for broadcast. James was recording his final essay to submit to NPR's "This American Life" and I hope to include one of his spoken segments in today's recording as a way to honour his wish. Dr. Nancy Iverson who facilitated the group for bereaved parents that I attended for many moons, will interview me.

My final event today will be a reading at a tea hosted by the Episcopal Church of St Mary the Virgin at the corner of Union and Steiner, starting at 4:00 pm. James' ashes rest in the garden columbarium of the church and the location housed The Village Well for many years. It will be one of those "full circle" moments to be there once again. The church are doing a day of celebration for the dead, Dia de los Meurtos and I am delighted to be included.

Books are available now in Ontario through Chapters/Indigo and can be ordered through your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Xlibris.

Thank you for the reviews on The American site seems to be the best place to put reviews.

Once back in Canada I will update this with more news and events. For now I must get ready to head over to do my Storycorps !





November 12, 2013


The following article will be in the Upcoming Cow Hollow News.

The Last Tear
Sandra Gary 

On the day our parish marked All Souls’ Day, our own Jean Rowcliffe returned to St. Mary’s to share her wisdom and to read from her just-published memoir, The Last Tear. It tells the story of the harrowing loss she endured when her only child died of cancer at the impossibly young age of 17. James Kessler, once a dynamic High School senior, now rests in St. Mary’s Columbarium. “He was a special soul,” she says. We knew her first as “Miss Jean,” founder of The Village Well and dispenser of advice to a new generation of parents whom she attracted to the Well, located in Fowler Hall. Jean gleaned wisdom from years working as a nanny to the Royal family in England and translated that into her “Slow Parenting” method of child rearing.  Jean tells her attentive listeners gathered in the Study that the title of her book refers to the act of a dying person. “Hospice workers told me that sometimes when someone is dying, they shed a last tear,” she says in her soft, soothing voice. “James did, and I dried the tear with a handkerchief. That handkerchief is now my most precious possession.”  Over cups of afternoon tea and homemade cookies and biscuits, we hear that she preserved James’s fingerprints on his computer screen. “It was the last intangible essence of him,” she explains. “I couldn’t clean the computer screen for two years.” Jean shares the story of James’s request to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the organization that grants the wishes of children facing a life-threatening illness. The year was 2008 and James wanted to meet the Democratic candidate for President. Barrack Obama spent half an hour with James three days before the election, when he was deeply exhausted. Later, Obama wrote to Jean expressing his own gratitude for the inspiration and energy he gained through speaking with her son. James and Jean were present backstage when Obama declared victory in Chicago, and then, through the efforts of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, joined dignitaries seated at the Capitol when the new President took the oath of office. Two years ago, Jean decided to move home to her native Canada, feeling overwhelmed by “the grief whores” as she calls them – the inescapable memories of James playing in that playground, of James sipping his first cup of coffee in that café, of James skateboarding down that street, of James attending High School in that building – all places she had to drive past every day on her commute route. In Ontario, she cared for her aging mother and wrote the book she searched for in vain as she struggled to face James’s death and her own grief. “There wasn’t a book available about grief that made sense” she says simply. “I wrote it from the deep pain of profound loss. It’s a loss you don’t recover from.”  “Grief never leaves you completely, but it becomes something you can manage,” she says, reassuring us with a smile, patting the seat cushion next to her. “Instead of it overwhelming you, you can put it on the seat next to you. And then, eventually, you can pick it up when you choose to.” As evening falls, Jean signs books, offering us also a handkerchief embroidered with the letters TLT.  For more information about The Last Tear or about Jean, or to order a copy of the book, visit:

December 2, 2013

The began with the discovery of a super article in the London Free Press/Sun Media written by Joe Belanger. Joe interviewed me a week ago and spent time crafting the story which appeared in today's paper. The link is below.

This afternoon I did a reading and book signing at The Villa in Exeter, Ontario attended by a large group of the local community. The event was organised by my cousin Karen and it was a wonderful gathering and opportunity for me to reconnect with many names and faces from my childhood.

This is the first time in over 38 years that I have spent any length of time in Canada and it has proved to be an incredible experience. The genuine hearts and  gratitude of the men and women who tend the farmland in this corner of the world has provided me a glimpse into the joy of simple living and valuing the gifts of each season.  Another reward from stepping off the grid.

Saturday, December 7th I have another  book signing at the Oxford Book Shop on Piccadilly Street. This shop used to be the only book store in town and as children we would spend hours studying the shelves, making careful choices as funds were limited. While the location has changed (it used to be on Richmond Street) the shop is still as intimate and full of magic. 

The signing will be from 11-1

Location: 262 Piccadilly Street.


December 4, 2013

I am thrilled to announce that the Oxford Book Shop will carry The Last Tear on an ongoing basis. I always have some on hand, but the store will be an easy  place in London to pick up the book. They are located on Piccadilly  St. between Richmond and Wellington. I highly encourage you all  to support the independent book stores this shopping season!

December 6, 2013


After much resistance I have finally joined the world of Facebook for the sake of the book. You can go to the FB page for The Last Tear for more updates.

October, 2015

I have been very busy and therefore extremely remiss in updating this blog... No excuse, except that being distracted with projects and not enough hours in the day has sadly kept me from writing.

It has been an important two years with lots of adventure and growth.

Maternity nursing and temporary project work with families has become a major commitment for me. The UK and Europe beckon on a regular basis and I have loved the travel and watching the wee babies grow into delightful toddlers is always rewarding.

While fulfilling on one level, I felt a piece of me that needed deeper healing and have begun Reiki training which is proving to be transformative. Having always been sensitive to energy, I realized that I was too often sucked into the personal dynamics of those around me and as a result, became depleted. Learning how to ground and protect myself has been a valuable tool (and one that we all can learn). This has provided me greater peace and I am much more open to new situations and trusting my intuition again.

Grief had become my story for many years and while it is still a piece of me, it is not the loud boisterous character that flailed its arms and made all decisions for me. Now it sits quietly next to me and we share space and time together. Sometimes it needs to make itself heard, and I listen, but then I can ask it to be still and sit down again... we seems to have found a gentle path to negotiate.

This year has seen more loss and sorrow in my family with the death of my  beloved and precious mother in January and then my wonderful 25 year old nephew in May. Once again, cancer swoops in to take a young spirit too soon.

I believe deep down that mother left us in the winter as she could not face the death of yet another grandchild.

As I continue to process this, I see more clearly the truth that each person will walk the grief path in their own way and there is no "right or wrong" way to do this. It is such a universal tale that we all share and everyone needs to be patient and compassionate with one another.

Loss, on any level is huge and many of our life choices revolve around what we no longer have... be it love, companionship, family, employment. The human condition is rich with this ebb and flow, and I am reminded constantly of James' wisdom when he took me aside, when I was at my most fractious with humanity,  to say quietly "everybody has a story".

Learning how to be truly present with this has been one of the great blessings this lifetime.

I continue to write my children's stories (reworking a number from years past) and also developing the parenting book. I think it might take a different direction as I see more issues with the new breed of "Google parents". They have lost the ability to trust their instincts or seek advice from the older generation of women, but are instead  seduced by the plethora of chat rooms and blogs that are full of some of the most crazy ideas for child rearing. The confidence of new parents is constantly being undermined all the while they think that are becoming more enlightened. It is a tragic state of affairs.

So yes, I have much to explore through my writing and with Reiki to help provide balance and an openness now to trusting my intuition again I am excited to see what the coming months have in store.