Living in Color: A Story of Love, In Sickness and In Health
Living in Color is the extraordinary true story of the last 6 months of the life of Margot Murphy after a 9 year battle with cancer, written by her husband, businessman Mike Murphy. Unflinching in its honesty and transparency, the story is a riveting inside look at a love story for the ages, one that men and women dream of but may never experience in their lifetime.
The story is rich with lessons about true love. First, the love of Mike Murphy for his wife is a story about love that does not quit, that stays the course no matter the circumstances, that prioritizes the others greatest good no matter what the cost. Second, the love of Margot for her husband is a story that demonstrates what it means to love someone so stubbornly even if the beloved is not ready or open to receive love. It is a story of how this stubborn persistent powerful love can transform a heart forever. Both Margot and Mike demonstrate unconditional love as practice in their own unique ways and Living in Color is a teaching document in the practice of love in its various authentic approaches.
The story is also rich with lessons about living life to the full, thus the title, “Living in Color”, denoting the practice of risk-taking, adventurous, vibrant life aligned to one’s true identity and deepest desires. Margot beautifully demonstrates what it means to abandon one’s self fully to the love and beauty of Life itself. Mike reveals how his own true self emerged through Margot’s unfailing, sometimes overwhelming love and how he too began living his life in full “color”, expressed in acts of radical service first to his wife, and then after her passing, to women marginalized not only by poverty but by a cancer diagnosis.
Finally the story is an unflinching look at the process of dying and how it is possible to die beautifully and to die well. Mike reveals how he helped prepare Margot for what is inevitable to all humans, helping her to find peace before her last breath. With the help of a friend, Margot makes the decision to die consciously and fearlessly.
And how despite unimaginable pain in the process and the loss of her physical body, somehow there is beauty, joy and peace mixed in the knowledge that Margot not only left this earth in complete peace, but also in that she still lives. Ultimately the story is about how death is but an illusion for humans who all have eternal souls and how love persists beyond death.
Every family that has been touched with cancer will certainly identify with the scenes in the story, which are all real events, masterfully written like a novel. Every human who longs to love and be loved, to live well and to die well will be greatly enriched by the story’s lessons and deep wisdom.
Living In Color: A Story of Love, In Sickness and In Health Michael Murphy. CreateSpace, 201 pages, (paperback) $26.95, 9781512158564. (Reviewed: July 2016)
Cynics might assume Living In Color: A Story of Love, In Sickness and In Health is yet another sentimental memorial to a deceased loved-one. But Michael Murphy’s story is much more than that: His account of his beloved second-wife Margot’s struggle with cancer is a love story, a primer on accepting life, whatever it brings, and a practical guide for caregivers, as he was for Margot.
In 2000, Murphy, 43, was living in the Bay Area, running successful car dealerships and married to his high-school sweetheart. Then he met Margot, decades younger and also married. Margot and Michael didn’t mean to fall in love. But they did. Murphy skillfully takes readers through their first years together, including their wrenching guilt over their spouses. The title is something Margot often said: Until she met Michael, she was living in black and white.
They did live in color, even while Margot endured nine years of cancer that spread throughout her body and finally took her life. Murphy doesn’t spare readers the details, but there’s no self-pity from either Margot or Michael, even during terrible times of doubt and fear. Just as readers feel overwhelmed with sorrow, Murphy jump cuts back to their lives before cancer, talking about his four children and the new couple’s growing love.
Readers find themselves holding their breath to see if she’ll make it through setback after setback. Besides the cancer, their story includes raising a wild teen from Michael’s first marriage, trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, and some less-than-helpful doctors. Throughout, Margot’s thoughts on fear, dying, life and faith are deeply moving, invaluable for anyone facing the issues of life and death.
For those afraid to read sad stories, there’s a happy ending. After Margot’s death, Michael found a new purpose in life: He founded Love From Margot Foundation to fund low-income cancer patients. It’s his way of keeping her alive, “her love flowing freely through me to serve these women in need.”