I have long been a planner. When I was younger, my strategic thinking was always long-term, pondering what I might be doing when I got older. Now that I am older, of course, it is harder to think much beyond the next few months to maybe a year. I try to assess what life will be like in 2010, 2011, or beyond, but life is simply more complex than it used to be.
No where was this more true than in my life with my late wife Laura. (You can read more about this in my self-published memoir, My Life with Laura: A Love Story.) In every way, we did things the right way. Both Laura and I waited until our 30s to settle down, with each of us focusing on our careers before marriage. Shortly after our wedding, Laura became pregnant with our daughter Charlotte, and it seemed that we were well on our way to starting a family. From that point on, Laura could not stop thinking about having another child, and perhaps another one.
But, life threw us a curve. In May 2006, Laura was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, and we would spend the next 1½ years focused entirely on her cancer. She had multiple surgeries, countless doctors’ visits, and several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. It was a tough time. Throughout it all, Laura had a positive spirit that uplifted everyone around her. I do not know how many people I spoke to that said that they stopped by to cheer up Laura, and instead, she inspired them. Despite the best efforts of the doctors, though, Laura passed away on November 13, 2007. She was 36 years old.
This month, our daughter Charlotte will turn four years old. I could never have predicted that I would be forty years old, a single father, and a widower. Laura and my "happily ever after" did not turn out as we had hoped. And yet, I am happy to have known Laura, even for such a brief period in time. Like many others, she inspired me, too. I am often reminded of her (especially since Charlotte looks just like her), and our bout with cancer forced me to re-evaluate my faith. Today, I feel that I am a better and much stronger Christian because of what we went through. In January, I was ordained a deacon in part because I wanted to give back to the church that provided so much support to us when we needed them.
In writing my book, I originally planned to tell the story of my time with Laura so that Charlotte would better know her mother. Charlotte was only two when Laura died, and unfortunately, her memories of her mother are limited. But, as more people learned about my book, I was inundated with requests to read it once it was finished. I made the memoir available to the public. I have been happy with the response, both from those who knew Laura and those who did not. Through this process, I also got to meet some wonderful people, such as Christina Olachia, who participated in my recent blog book tour. It is nice to see so many people who have been inspired by her cancer and faith story, even after her death.
It will be interesting to see where life takes Charlotte and me next. I can only imagine, knowing that God might have other things in store for us that I would not think of.
- Chad Moutray