Sheila Peters lost her son, Adam, when he was just 19 years old, a nightmare no parent should have to experience. Lessons of Life at Adam’s Gate is a tribute to Adam and a look at how grief changed the author’s life.
The book opens with Sheila getting the terrible news while she’s giving a presentation at work. By that time, Adam had been through multiple rounds of rehab along with stints in jail and prison for crimes stemming from his addictions (theft and a DUI are specifically mentioned). Her son had moved to Louisiana to pursue his songwriting passion, fallen in love and was seemingly putting his life back together after several false starts. A terrible cold laid him low for a week, but it’s never clear if that was the cause of death or if he had possibly taken medication not prescribed for him with a tragic result.
Peters divides the book into sections that include lessons she learned from Adam’s life, poems and song lyrics from his notebooks, and stories about how she decided to write this book, all in clean, simple prose. Her prose about grief transformed by a sense of peace and faith, knowing her son was finally out of crisis, is moving, as is her drive to create a lasting legacy, regarding her son’s music, in his memory.
What’s missing are stories about Adam as a kid, his day-to-day life, anything that would give him dimension. Peters is direct about his addiction and the troubles it caused the family, but limits his portrayal to that and his love of music.
Lessons of Life at Adam’s Gate is unusual in its scope but may well provide consolation to parents going through a similar ordeal. Despite its flaws, it is a loving tribute to a life cut short far too soon.