After his son Pablo dies before his second birthday from a rare and aggressive form of infant leukemia, the author writes this poignant account of unending love and hope. The foreword is its best description: "This book is a dictionary with a single entry. It is the search for a word that does not exist in my language-the word for a parent who has watched his child die. Children who lose their parents are orphans, and those who have to close their spouse's dead eyes are widows and widowers. But we, the parents who sign the documents authorizing our children's funerals, we have no name, no civil status. We remain parents forever. Parents to a ghost who does not grow, a ghost whom we will never pick up from school, who will never fall for a girl, who will never go to college, who will never leave home. A child who will never upset us and whom we will never have to scold. A child who will never read the books we dedicate to him.The fact that there is no word to describe us means we are condemned to live always in a violet hour. Our watches have not stopped, but they display the same time again and again.
Whenever it seems that the second hand will force the hour hand to make the leap forward, instead it slips back again to where it started. We are stuck in no-man's time, stuck in our own redundancy, within which we call up this fantastic and unlikely story, this cheap tragedy filled with all the tricks of an inexperienced screenwriter, the story that trapped us here in the first place. I evoke it in writing. I recall this year of my life in the hope of fixing the story in place, of making sure it never shrinks into a cliche.My son Pablo was ten months old when he was first admitted to the hospital, and was nearly two when we scattered his ashes. It is this stretch of time that makes up our violet hour. It is this stretch of time that makes up this book, which contains all the words I need to give a name to my condition."