When you see yourself somewhere in my experiences, or I raise an emotion in you—that is when I have done my job as a writer. Writers do not leave their dirty laundry behind closed doors. It is our job to show you who we are, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. I have done that in my blog, at times to your applause and others to your criticism. For better or worse, I have shown you who I am and told you how I feel.
With that same philosophy, my wife has written a book about our family. I helped, but it was her project. The story spans the years from when we were dating until we began settling into retirement. As with any family, a lot of stuff happens in forty years.
It is the story of our family’s journey and a commentary on the lessons learned along the way. We do our best to be open and honest. We talk about addiction, resentment, recovery, and forgiveness. But, at the heart of the story is a tragedy. My wife recounts the illness and ultimate death of our son Scott as only a mother can.
The project began eight years ago. While traveling alone, as the Universe would have it, Chris found herself in conversation with a woman on an early morning flight. After exchanging pleasantries the conversation took an unexpected turn. Her fellow traveler claimed to have a connection with the other side–she talked with the dead! She was a medium.
A three-way conversation ensued, between Chris her companion, and our son on the other side. Among other topics discussed, it was determined that our story must be told. It must be written and shared. Believe what you will, it was the seed that gave the project life.
I know, I was skeptical too! But, she knew things about our family that no stranger should. She didn’t want anything from us and we have had no contact with her since.
So it began. Memories emerged handwritten on yellow legal pads. We were walking through our lives one more time. We took a birds-eye view of all that we had been through.
As we progressed, we ended up with pages of stories with no idea how to put them together to create a book. In stepped my sister Barbara, she became our editor in the early going. Her contribution can not be overstated. Our daughter Kim wrote the introduction. We then imposed on other family members. Aunt Eileen, Scott’s cousins Kathryn, Megan, and Jim added their reflections. Also included is the text of Cousin Mikes’s beautiful eulogy that he delivered at Scott’s memorial service.
It is not just the story of Chris, Kim, Scott, me, and our extended family. It is also the story of the people around us who gave us aid and comfort. After all, it takes a community to fight cancer. Sadly, no matter how big the army, often the disease wins. I hope that we have done justice in our book to the people that carried us. You know who you are.
Why write this book and shine a light on the most difficult times in our lives? We were a family torn apart by drug addiction and got put back together only to lose a child to cancer. Who would want to re-live any of that?
Besides following instructions from “the other side,” we wrote it because we are not unique. Unfortunately, there are families everywhere going through the same nightmares we did. Serious illness is both terrifying and isolating as is addiction. Someone out there may see something in our story they relate to or maybe gives them hope. Our message to them is, “You are not alone.”
Our book Live, Laugh, Fly is available on Amazon in both e-book and paperback format. Most of any profit realized will be donated.