‘Words I Could Not Speak’ gives insight about a father’s journey through grief

Mike Hoogeveen of Sully is living every parent’s worst nightmare, leaning on his faith day by day and sometimes hour by hour with the motto of “get better, not bitter.”

Nearly six years ago, Mike lost his precious daughter, Megan, to Hemophagocytic LymphoHistio-cytosis, HLH. The disease ravaged the 18-year-old’s body just days after she walked across the stage and received her high school diploma. Within days of what was one of the most memorable events of her life, the teenager with a heart of gold was not planning for her bright future, but rather, she was fighting for her life in a drug-induced coma. Megan ultimately lost her valiant battle with HLH on June 29, 2011.

While his daughter was fighting for her life and after her passing, Mike found himself in a battle of his own – one that found him in a deep pit of grief that transformed his entire being.

The trials, heartbreak, and healing Mike experienced in the time of Megan’s illness and death, and through the journey of grief he now walks, prompted him to write the book, “Words I Could Not Speak.” The book includes a collection of poems combined with short summaries of Mike’s emotions on the trek through Megan’s illness and death.

During Megan’s 31-day hospitalization, life outside the four walls of her room ceased to exist for Mike. He spent every day at his daughter’s bedside – praying, begging God to heal his daughter, and leaning on his faith to get through the “gut-wrenching nightmare I was living,” recalls Mike. Mike often wrote CaringBridge updates to keep family, friends, and even strangers aware of Megan’s condition with specific prayer requests. Writing, although never a strong talent of Mike’s, soon became an outlet for him to express his feelings during what he describes as “hell on earth.” His updates and poems expressed such raw emotion they left readers wiping tears from their eyes. As Megan’s prognosis became increasingly dire, Mike wrestled with his emotions and faith. He recalls having a screaming match with God during one of his daily commutes to Blank Children’s Hospital where Megan fought for her life.

Megan and her older brother Benjamin stand in front of a waterfall while on a 2010 Colorado vacation. At the time, Mike thought it might be their last family vacation together since Benjamin was soon moving to Des Moines. “Little did I realize at the time that a year later, it was Megan who would no longer be here,” said Mike.

“It was at that point I had a real heart-to-heart screaming match with God,” Mike writes in his book. “Words I Could Not Speak” gives readers glimpses of heartbreaking and soul-seeking moments that took place at Megan’s bedside during her illness and the journey Mike faced as he attempted to climb out of the deep pit of grief and face life without his precious daughter. Several poems are also included in the book, including “Holding Megan’s Hand,” a poem that tells of the various stages in which Mike held Megan’s hand – joyful moments as a baby, toddler, and young woman, and then holding her hand while she lay in a coma and as Mike wrote, “But as I reluctantly let go of your hand for the final time, I placed your hand in the hand of your Heavenly Father so He could lead you home.”

Just as writing such touching poems and updates was not what Mike expected of himself, writing a book never crossed his mind either. However, as Mike has said before, Megan was always teaching her dad and could find a way to bring him out of his comfort zone. Mike’s goal of “Words I Could Not Speak” is to help anyone who may be on the devastating and difficult journey of grief; that his words may speak to someone’s hurting heart. Even though several years have passed since Megan’s death, Mike still finds himself living hour by hour when the grief becomes overwhelming. But through it all, Mike has relied on his faith to help him face each day and prays others may find that comfort as well during difficult times.

Mike enlisted the help of his junior high English teacher, Mrs. Zelda Engbers of Sully, to help with the book over the course of the year it took to write. The book can be purchased on Amazon for $15.99 plus tax, or Mike has books on hand for $20 each. All proceeds from the sales of the book will fund HLH research and education, a cause Mike has wholeheartedly devoted himself to.

Tune into KCCI 8 News at noon on Thursday, Mar. 16, when Mike will be interviewed by news anchor Mollie Cooney about “Words I Could Not Speak.”

 

“Words I Could Not Speak” by Michael J. Hoogeveen can be purchased on Amazon for $15.99 plus tax. Mike has copies available for $20 each. If interested in purchasing a book from Mike, contact him at 641-594-2797 or via email at mike@meganslegacy.org. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to fund HLH research and education.

 

“If just one person is helped by reading these pages, then my goal

has been accomplished. God bless you all.” -Mike Hoogeveen

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