How do we comfort those in need? Some may whip up a batch of chicken soup or a casserole, others may place a phone call.
And then there's Davidson resident Becky Macri. She wrote and published a book.
For Macri, it began just over a year ago, when her mother-in-law - the matriarch of a large, close-knit Italian family - passed away unexpectedly. Watching her father-in-law, her husband and his five siblings adrift in their sorrow, she felt a pressing need to help them heal.
A few months later, on a cold February night, she had a dream.
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She envisioned Dorothy, her mother-in-law, as a butterfly, and Dorothy's five children as caterpillars.
So she sat down. She wrote. And three hours later, she had a book.
The result - "Pip: A Very Special Caterpillar" - has been published by Warren Publishing, the area affiliate of Simon & Schuster. The story centers around a caterpillar with "very stubborn legs," much like Macri's husband Steve's youngest brother Phillip, who was paralyzed in an accident over 20 years ago.
Macri had always admired Phillip's spirit and belief that he could achieve what God intended for him.
"In the story, Pip, the main character, has a mother who constantly reaffirms who he is and his endless potential. She tells him that if he works hard, he can change what it means to fly, to make it about truly knowing and recognizing his potential and achieving it."
"Pip goes to bed and awakens one morning to find that Mama has gone to the wind. He also discovers that he has gotten his wings. His Papa tells him that the love she had given him every day has made him soar," Macri said.
In an illustrator, Macri knew she needed someone to help convey the deep emotional ties to Pip and the caterpillar family, so she called on River Run neighbor Bonnie Feeney, something practically unheard of in the literary world.
A realism artist, Feeney felt a bit out of her league at first, but adapted quickly.
"The story was so touching, and it gave me such a unique opportunity to express myself to young readers," Feeney said.
"I could have used another illustrator, but I was lucky enough to share a vision with Bonnie," Macri said. "We felt like a team."
The result has been, in both their words, "Beyond my wildest expectations."
Recently, Macri took the finished product and presented it to her husband and his clan in New Castle, Penn.
"I had told Phillip, my brother-in-law, beforehand that the story was for him and asked if he wanted to see it. He told me 'Let it be the gift you meant it to be.'"
Each family member received a copy at the same time, which they cherished and read, and then cried.
"I felt like (my mother-in-law) had been holding my hand the whole time. The sole reason for doing this was to offer my husband and his family comfort. I hope this book is a work of art that they will forever find comfort in," Macri said.