February 9, 2015

The Book I Never Wanted to Write

By Elaine Marie Cooper

The inaudible voice in my heart was unmistakable and the message clear: I want you to write your daughter’s story and I will give you the strength to do it.

It was not an assignment I relished; in fact, it was a directive I dreaded.

Write about my daughter, Lord? Seriously?

The thought of re-living my daughter’s battle with a terminal brain tumor in a memoir seemed a daunting and emotionally painful task. How could I bear that step-by-step recollection of the worst days of my life?

Yet, after decades of knowing Christ as my Savior, I knew it was pointless to argue with the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Since the unspoken message came during the Spirit-filled praise and worship time at a 2011 writer’s conference, I decided I had not imagined this mission.

In the midst of my angst, the Comforter continued to reassure me He would be there through each and every word. Yet I knew every phrase would be wrought through an onslaught of tears.

I decided to share this “assignment” with Christian friends who could hold me accountable to carry through. This was not an undertaking to be ignored, even though I wanted to sweep it to the bottom of my to-do-list.

Even so, I was fairly efficient at stalling. Though I shared about writing this memoir with many others, I kept penning my favored genre, historical fiction. I had a three-book saga to finish, and then I contracted another stand-alone novel.

By 2013, that inner voice began to place serious pressure on my procrastination and I knew it was time to carry through. I prayed for strength and asked many others to pray for me, as well.

So on New Year’s Day, 2014, I sat in my home office and read through my daughter’s journals, which she had started when she was barely old enough to put sentences together. Reading through her lifetime of thoughts was an indescribable gift and a legacy of her faith in Christ. It was a day of reading that I will always treasure.

I gathered excerpts from her diaries and used them to open each chapter. Amazingly, nearly every quote fit beautifully with the topics. Even more amazing, the writing of the book just flowed unhindered. Of course, I kept my box of tissues nearby and used them frequently. But my daughter’s story bloomed like a perennial garden after a long, cold winter. It was time to push through the dirt of disease and show the beauty of a life lived well for the Lord.

The response to Bethany’s Calendar has been more than I could have hoped for. So many readers share how they have been touched by the things our family learned during Bethany’s illness and ultimate passing to eternity. From caregivers to patients to those who just want to help others going through illness, I pray Bethany’s Calendar is a blessing to all. Just like Bethany was a blessing to us.
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:

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