OSAGE | Sawyer Small, a 2012 graduate of Osage High School, lost his mother, Becki, to cancer when he was 14.
Sawyer first began writing songs about a year after she died.
"Music was my outlet for coping," he said.
Sawyer, a music therapist at a mental health hospital in Nashville, now uses music to help others.
"It's a very rewarding job," he said.
He's also found a way to share his family's experience by writing a book titled, "The Hardest Part About: A 10-Year Journey Through Grief," which was published by "The Hardest Part About" was published by WestBow Press in late October.
Funds from a Kickstarter campaign helped pay the publishing costs.
Sawyer is returning to his hometown this week for two book signing events, where he will also perform some of his songs.
He said as the 10-year anniversary of his mother's death was approaching, he wanted to write something for the family.
He then decided to ask other family members to write chapters of their own.
"It was a way for all of us to talk about our grief," he said.
Sawyer's father, Bruce, contributed to the book. So did Small's older sisters, Mallory and Sydney; Becki's mother and sisters; and her friends.
They shared memories of the day Becki was diagnosed or the day she died.
They also wrote about how her passing affected their daily life and their faith.
In addition, they related stories about her.
"It helps paint a portrait of who my mom was, from birth to death," Sawyer said.
Becki, a teacher's aide at Osage Community Schools, also served as a mentor for the Bridges Mentoring Program.
Sawyer said she always supported him, especially with his music.
He also said she was the one he would turn to if he needed to talk about something.
He said he wrote about "how she valued us children," as well as her sense of humor.
At Christmas she liked to hide their presents around the house for them to fine or "fake us out" by putting a small gift in a huge box, he said.
Small will be at Sacred Hearth Church at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at Teluwut Grille House & Pub from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday for the book signings/concerts.
For those who can't make it to one of the book signings this week to buy a copy, "The Hardest Part About" can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Small's website at www.sawyersmall.com.