TRAVERSE CITY — Lesson 1: Protection.
Lesson 2: Time changes.
Lesson 3: A sense of wonder.
Lesson 4: Kid tough.
Lesson 5: When children are yours and not yours.
Lesson 6: When a marriage becomes a family.
Lesson 7: What we carry.
Those are the seven lessons — one for each year Medjerda “Chika” Jeune lived — Mitch Albom talks about in his new book, “Finding Chika.”
An international best-selling author, screenwriter, playwright and nationally-syndicated columnist, Albom lives in Detroit with his wife, Janine Sabino. He has founded nine charities in the area.
Albom also operates the Have Faith Haiti Mission & Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which he said he visits every month.
“There’s a lot of talk about if you foster or adopt a child, they’re not your child,” Albom said. “Well, that’s simply not true. Nobody owns a child.
“What makes somebody a part of your life is the love you show them,” he said.
Albom is set to talk about “Finding Chika” — which hit shelves Nov. 5 — at the National Writers Series on Nov. 17. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the ticketed event.
Nick Edson, a former long-time Record-Eagle sports writer and editor, is hosting the discussion.
Edson said he has read all of Albom’s book and is very familiar with his columns. He hadn’t yet had a chance to read “Finding Chika” when the Record-Eagle spoke with him.
“Every time I read one of Mitch’s books, I come away with the thought that I can be a better person,” Edson said. “The stuff he writes makes you think about the kind of person you are.
“If there’s a common theme in his books, it’s the reader saying, ‘I can be a better person,’” he said.
Chika was born on Jan. 9, 2010 — three days before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti. At age 3, she arrived at the Have Faith Haiti Mission & Orphanage.
Two years later, Chika developed a brain tumor, Albom said. He and Sabino brought Chika to the U.S. in hopes that American medicine would be able to help her.
Instead, they were told she had an inoperable Stage IV brain tumor — diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG.
Chika was given four months to live, Albom said.
“We went around the world trying to find a cure for her,” he said. “Along the way, she and I and my wife became a family.
“It didn’t matter who brought her into the world,” Albom added. “I was hers, even if she wasn’t mine and that’s all that really mattered.”
Chika battled the tumor for 23 months before passing away April 7, 2017.
Albom said that, for the last six months of her life, Chika couldn’t walk and he carried her everywhere.
Albom recalled a time when he and Chika were sitting at a table coloring and he realized he was late for work. When he stood up and told Chika he had to go, she told him to stay and color with her, Albom said.
“I said, ‘This is my job.’ She said, ‘No it’s not. Your job is carrying me,’” Albom said. “I realized, not only is it funny, but she was really correct. That was my job.”
That was the lesson that stuck out most to him, Edson said. It’s a great lesson about being a responsible parent or caregiver, he said.
Albom’s motivation for helping others is one of the things Edson said he’d like to focus on during the Nov. 17 event. Other topics include Albom’s plans going forward, how he balances time between writing books, writing columns and covering events, Edson said.
“I’d like to find out how he finds time for everything and everybody,” Edson said.
All proceeds from “Finding Chika” will go to the Have Faith Haiti Mission & Orphanage, Albom said.
The event is sold out, said Anne Stanton, National Writers Series executive director.
People still can call 231- 941-8082, ext. 201, and ask to be put on the wait list — some seats tend to open up, she said.