While any loss of somebody dear to us is a horrible thing to endure, there are some that are simply even more difficult than the others. Losing a spouse is certainly right there at the top, particularly when the loss is sudden and at an early age. And that is precisely what happened to Laura B. Hayden, who found herself a widow even before she turned fifty. Not only did she have to raise two children alone now, but she soon faced a battle with cancer herself. Yet throughout all of that she did not lose the faith, nor focus.
There was one small paragraph towards the beginning of the book that really struck a chord with me. In it, the author stated, “I have come to realize I took my 20 years together with Larry for granted. Larry didn’t.” What a powerful statement, and one that really made me stop and think about my own personal relationships and how I deal with them. I will certainly try to do my best from now on not to take anything for granted ever again.
Staying Alive: A Love Story truly is a love story on many levels. It is undoubtedly a story of Ms. Hayden’s love for her husband, but also for her children, and for life in general. Throughout the book the reader learns about Ms. Hayden’s childhood and adolescence, and then her adult life, including her professional and personal growth. We follow her spiritual evolvement — and involvement, we see her learn and struggle and doubt and grow and stumble, but never really fall. Her memoir is a powerful mixture of emotions and tales of incredible resilience, and while it gets terribly sad at times, it never descends into whimpering or self-pity. She finds support and courage in many things, as well as many people, and she is lucky to recognize what really matters. She reminds us of the things we all know, but oftentimes forget or overlook — what really matters, or better yet, who really matters.
Ms. Hayden’s writing is beautiful, and she truly connected with me as a reader. She made me think again and again, and that is something that I really cherish in a writer. I would highly recommend this book to all those who have suffered a loss of a loved one, as well as anybody who just needs reminder of how amazingly resilient we human beings can be, and how with enough resolve we actually manage to overcome even the biggest obstacles. As Staying Alive: A Love Story will remind us, we do that and more, and if we are as strong as Ms. Hayden, we can actually do it with great grace.