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.”