CatholicMom Book Spotlight

Andrea Bell

Dawson's Gift

Recently, I was contacted by talented author Andrea Bell, who was looking for an opportunity to spread the word about her new book, Dawson's Gift Andrea's note touched me, as she described that this work was the true story of the journey she shared with her adult son Dawson as he faced a life ending illness and what would ultimately be a journey towards faith for both mother and son.  I am so happy to be able to share the following interview and insights from Andrea Bell and to highly recommend Dawson's Gift to our Catholic Mom readers.  The book is available through Amazon or readers may order the book directly from Andrea Bell at and she will personally sign your copy of the book.  In addition, for readers with Book Clubs meeting in the Northern California area, Andrea is available to meet with and speak to your Book Club or Moms Groups.  I hope that you enjoy and find inspiration from Dawson's Gift.

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Dawson's Gift
by Andrea Bell
574 pages, January 2003


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CM: Please describe your background with the Catholic Church and your faith journey.

I was baptized Catholic, made my First Communion, and went to church every Sunday. I was married in a Catholic ceremony, but over the years, I found myself slipping away from the church. When my 27-year-old son, Dawson, became ill, it had been many years since I had attended mass. Dawson's illness was the biggest obstacle I had ever had to face. Even with the support of my loving family, I felt alone and helpless. I turned to my faith that had been strong during my younger years and I found it was still there for me when I needed it most. From the time Dawson became ill, I began to say a nightly rosary. I found it brought me great comfort. Throughout Dawson's illness and my subsequent return to the church, my prayers and my newly-found faith continued to sustain me. During this time, Dawson and I shared many amazing and beautiful experiences. But when it seemed apparent that Dawson might not survive, I suddenly found myself unable to pray. I had to ask myself how, after all the blessings we had received, how could that be? Had I turned my back on God no longer believing or trusting in Him? I searched my soul for answers and I realized that it was precisely because I did believe and trust in God, that I was no longer praying. I had not turned away from Him; to the contrary, I had turned and faced Him and with total trust had lain our fate at His feet. In so doing, I reminded myself that I had promised God that I would be forever grateful for all the beautiful days and the faith that Dawson and I had shared. Forever grateful, no matter what. That is what I had vowed. To this day, my daily prayer is a prayer of thanks. And first of all, I always thank God for the gift of faith.

CM: I noticed that your book is dedicated to your mother and your daughter. What role did your mother play in your religious life and spiritual motivation?

My mother had instilled in me a faith in a loving God who would always hear my prayers. Attending mass regularly and observing church rules as a child was her way of also teaching me the importance of discipline, commitment and the respect for something bigger than myself. This, combined with her unwavering belief in my abilities to accomplish whatever I set out to do, helped give me the will and determination to pursue the task of writing Dawson's Gift.

CM: What prompted you to write
Dawson's Gift?

Simply put--my love for Dawson. He wanted his story told and I promised I would do that for him. When he said to me, "Mom, I want everyone to know my story. I know it's going to help someone," I believed him. I also believed it was a story that was meant to be shared.

CM: How would you summarize
Dawson's Gift to someone who is considering reading the book?

One of the first comments many readers exclaim after reading Dawson's Gift is, "This is a true story, isn't it!" So I would like to start out by saying that every word is true and every event actually happened just as it is told. Dawson spent three months in intensive care waiting for a heart transplant. But the story is not as much about his illness as it is about his strength. The story takes the reader on our journey, sharing the very beautiful, though sometimes painful, steps along the way. It ultimately becomes an unexpected journey of faith. In addition to its spiritual side, it speaks openly about life and the choices we make and the paths we take. I feel that one reason readers have found our story so profoundly compelling and touching is the fact that it is a true and honestly-told story and every word came from my heart.

CM: In
Dawson's Gift, you describe the restoration of your faith. How did the trials that Dawson went through affect you and your son spiritually?

Before his hospitalization, Dawson was neither religious nor spiritual. By that time, I, on the other hand, had already begun my journey back to my faith. But I was about to face the most painful days of my life. It is easy to understand how one could have lost faith when the suffering was so deep, but for me, my prayers had given me a faith that was continuing to grow. With all my heart, I believed. And in truly believing, came great comfort knowing that I was not alone as we faced life's trials. But as a mother, it was not enough that I believed, not enough that I was finding comfort in prayer. My thoughts were that Dawson must experience this, as well. Dawson must find this faith that would bring him hope and peace and a love for the God who I knew was hearing my prayers. It was at that point that I began to pray for something as important as the healing of his ailing heart. I began to pray for the healing of his soul. I prayed he would embrace the God that I knew was there for him. Were prayers heard? Were they answered? They were, indeed.

No doubt, we all have our crosses to bear. All of us at some time in our lives will find ourselves facing difficult times. I found that even in my most trying moments when it seemed that my prayers were not being answered in the way that I might have hoped, I saw proof that they were being heard. And when the worst of all possible things had happened to me and I could still feel incredibly blessed, there was no denying the tremendous power of faith and prayer.

CM: What is the story or message you believe Dawson wanted to share, and how have you had the motivation to work so diligently to spread this message?

Dawson wanted to share what he had learned about life in the hopes that other young people could avoid making the mistakes that he had. What he had learned was that life was precious, that it was a gift and that you do not ever take it for granted. Life was not about how much fun you could have, how many crazy things you could do or how many risks you could take with it. He had discovered that life was about how you could help other people. It was about how you must give your life true meaning by doing something worthwhile with this very precious gift.

My motivation to share his message comes from the belief that what Dawson and I experienced, and his desire to have it told, which ultimately led to my journey into writing, was all an amazing gift from God.

CM: What do you hope readers will take away from the experience of reading
Dawson's Gift?

When I began writing this book, the very least I hoped for was that the reader would simply know what it felt like for me to love Dawson. At the very most, I hoped it would, as Dawson had said, "help others." I have been blessed to have heard from readers who tell me it has done both. It has touched their hearts and rekindled their faith. I could not hope for more.

CM: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you'd like to share with our CatholicMom readers?

In the beginning, I always saw this book as my gift to Dawson. When it was completed, I was able to look back on my years of writing and see that having this story--this particular story--to write about had undoubtedly been Dawson's gift to me. Now, it is our gift to all who read it. There is great joy in sharing our story because I know that Dawson was right. His story is helping others in many incredible ways. What I have learned through this is that a mother's love when combined with faith is an incredibly powerful combination. It can produce beauty where one might think it impossible. Love and faith to all you Catholic Moms. May God bless you.

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Dawson's Gift - click here.  Remember your purchase of this book through helps support this site.