A Promise Kept by Elise Crawford begins with a chapter called Ground Zero. Crawford uses vivid description, peppered with actual news clips, photos, and details from witnesses, emergency crews and survivors to tell the story of Seattle Metro bus operator, Mark McLaughlin, who was shot and killed by a transit rider on November 27, 1998. Crawford details how Mark wrestled the man for control and how the 72 foot bus, along with 32 passengers, went off the Aurora Bridge and landed on an apartment complex.
We are instantly captivated with the rescue effort and search for Mark, missing from the crash scene. Slowly, the police realize that the crash isn't a terrible accident but is actually a crime scene as survivors tell of several gunshots just before the bus went off the bridge. A friend calls Elise at work and asks, "What route was Mark driving today?" As the story unravels in the media, Elise goes home to wait for Mark's call to say he's okay-a call she knows will never come.
Next we learn about Mark the person and how he was large of size and of heart. He cared about people, loved animals and wanted to make everyone happy. He had numerous quirks that entertained some and irritated others. Elise and her two young children rode his bus each day. The two quickly became friends, but this isn't a tale of love of first sight. Elise first sees Mark as only a friend, as he is much older and also married. Soon the pair cannot ignore their feelings for each other. A now single Mark and Elise become closer each day and fall in love. Mark sees Elise's unlimited potential. With Mark's support, Elise feels that anything is possible.
We see how Mark's larger than life personality touched the lives of so many when his memorial is held at a sports arena. Police and firefighters consider him a hero. Thousands of transit operators from across North America come to pay their respects. However, Elise is unable to acknowledge any of it and holds fast to her belief that Mark will soon come home. Trapped in denial, offers of condolences only served to taunt her.
For years Elise would exist only for her children. Her anguish cripples her and health problems mount. Although lost in a fog of despair, and despite the job losses, money shortages and constant moving, a dream to write a book about her experience will not go away. She knows she must write this book, but is unable to begin. Only when she is able to accept Mark's death can she finally put pen to paper and start a book that would rescue her soul and perhaps help others also suffering with the torturous ache of grief.
This is Elise Crawford's first book; however, she writes with the skill of a seasoned author. Her powerful description and willingness to show her own mistakes, weaknesses and fears make this a wonderfully inspiring read. The strength needed to write her story, reliving each painful moment, is remarkable. Difficult to put down or forget, I highly recommend A Promise Kept. This is a must-read for those struggling with the loss of a loved one. This reviewer suggests you keep a box of tissue on hand as you read.