Author and friend Elaine Cooper has written some wonderful historical novels that take place during the Revolutionary War. After reading Field of the Fatherless, a gut-wrenching story about a battle that takes place on the same day of the battles of Lexington and Concord, I commented to Elaine that it must have been a very stressful story to write. That is when she told me that she was in the early stages of writing Bethany’s Calendar, the story of her family’s journey through her daughter’s symptoms, diagnosis, and later death from brain cancer.
I was profoundly moved by Elaine’s courage, faith, and
stamina to take on such a project, and told her I would be praying for her throughout this work so close to her heart.
Welcome Elaine. I believe that Bethany’s Calendar is your first non-fiction book. Please tell us a little about Bethany and what motivated you to write her story?
Thanks for having me, Janet. Yes, Bethany’s Calendar is my first non-fiction book and it definitely was the most difficult to write. I call it “the book I never wanted to write,” yet I felt the Lord clearly prompted me to put fingers to the computer and tell my daughter’s story. Once I asked friends to pray for me and I began the book, the words just flowed.
Bethany was an amazing young woman, so bright and full of life. She had so many plans and aspirations to do great things in the world—yet her life was cut short by the unforgiving disease of brain cancer. It wrought so many changes in her emotionally and physically. Yet the cancer could not destroy her faith in Christ. Her life and death reminds me of the verses in Romans 8:38-39. “For I am
convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NIV
Bethany’s Calendar is so personal because it deals with your daughter’s illness and death. How did your family react when you told them you wanted to write a book about it, and did they contribute to it in some way?
I first told my husband because I needed to know that it was OK with him. I also asked permission from my two sons to include them in the story. They were both very supportive and gave me the green light. Occasionally I’d ask for input from my husband and he would help with recollections.
Eventually I revealed my plans to others and really didn’t get much input from them because, for the most part, they were not here. Most of my family lives a distance away so they weren’t privy to the day-to-day events. But most were very supportive of me writing this memoir.
Writing this book made you re-live such a difficult time in your life. How did you prepare for this task, Elaine and face it day after day?
I always begin my day with prayer and definitely included prayers for strength, wisdom and discernment when writing Bethany’s Calendar. Since it’s a memoir involving real people, I had to be very careful how I worded things and had to keep the identity of some individuals private. When it’s a memoir, you have to be aware of possible litigation.
Mostly, I wanted to please my Lord with each and every word that I wrote and keep Bethany’s memory untarnished.
Did you find writing Bethany’s Calendar brought additional healing for you and others?
I can’t speak for others but for me, having Bethany’s story told keeps her legacy of faith and courage alive. It is a joy to have been able to reveal to the world just a small glimpse of the inspiring, fun and unforgettable young woman who we knew and loved. And to write tips that might help others on a similar journey with a loved one, adds extra meaning to her life. To turn our pain into a means of hope and help for others is a comfort. And I think she would be pleased.
One might think a book on such a painful experience would be overwhelmingly sad, but Bethany’s Calendar, while bittersweet, is incredibly uplifting as well as instructional. Please tell us how you framed the book to be such a helpful resource.
It must have been the Lord prompting me to peruse her diaries and pull out excerpts from her own writing. I found it amazing that nearly every excerpt I selected became the perfect introduction to each chapter’s topic.
The “Notes to Self” and “Notes to Others” that finish each chapter just seemed the perfect reflection on what I’ve learned in the ten years since everything happened. Sometimes the tincture of time clarifies and sorts through the darkness to find light. I pray these tips will minister to many.
I remember thinking as I finished reading Bethany’s Calendar, that in its publication, some of Bethany’s hopes are being fulfilled.
Yes. She is now a published author with her diary journals. That gives me great joy.
Thank you, Elaine. Where can people find your books?
Link to Amazon: http://buff.ly/12izRBy
Elaine Marie Cooper has released her first non-fiction book, Bethany’s Calendar. It is a personal memoir of her daughter who died of a brain tumor and how the Lord was their strength during the darkest journey of their lives.
As a novelist, Elaine Marie Cooper has written Fields of the Fatherless and the Deer Run Saga. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her historical fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels. Visit her website at: http://www.elainemariecooper.com
In January of 2002, Elaine’s world flipped upside down. What started out as a beautiful New Year for the mom of three, turned into a living nightmare when her 23-year-old daughter, Bethany was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.
In the months to come, Elaine not only used her nurse’s training, she learned to recognize the hand of God on her daughter’s life. Bethany’s Calendar tells the story of Elaine and Bethany’s journey and the many ways God helped their family to survive. It is a story of fear and faith, commitment and compassion, told with gut-wrenching honesty while sharing unwavering faith in God.