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Trent Toone, Deseret News

DRAPER — It was supposed to be the best of times for S. Michael and Laurie Wilcox.

“We had such plans. We were going to do so many things. I had just retired,” Michael Wilcox said.

Then Laurie Wilcox was diagnosed with a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma, a form of aggressive brain cancer.

“We both knew it was a death sentence, there was no cure and it was going to take her life,” he said in a recent interview. “We were hoping we might have some time, but we didn’t get it. She died very quickly.”

Despite the pain of losing his sweetheart, the experiences during her final days and those that followed taught Wilcox valuable lessons and led to him to write a new book titled, “Sunset: On the Passing of Those We Love" (Deseret Book, $16.99). While recalling his own journey, Wilcox also shares sensitive insights for cherishing loved ones, treasuring mortality and how to turn to the Lord in times of painful adversity.

During his wife’s struggle with cancer, two experiences played a role in leading him to write “Sunset.” First, Wilcox described flying over Lima, Peru, and seeing a beautiful sunrise. It reminded him of how beautiful beginnings can be. The next night, as he was flying over the Pacific Ocean, he saw the most gorgeous sunset of his life.

“As I watched, into my mind came the words, ‘Sunsets are beautiful things, endings as well as beginnings. They do not plunge the world into darkness but remind us of the glories of the day and promise that the sun will rise again,’ ” Wilcox said. “I felt it was the Lord’s way of saying even though this was an ending, a sunset on my wife’s life, that I should not be full of grief — I am — but I should remember the glorious, good and positive things that we had shared, that the sun will rise again and I will see her again.”

Secondly, as Laurie’s health declined, Wilcox was diligent in recording his thoughts, experiences, impressions and feelings in a little black notebook.

“I was writing down the things I was being taught, not particularly to be published, I just felt these were sacred things and I needed to have them,” Wilcox said. “We are asked to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. I thought that there would be some things that maybe I could put voice and words to, that could help people.”

Wilcox doesn’t believe he will ever “get over” Laurie’s death. Since her death last year, the retired CES instructor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and author does his best to stay busy by guiding LDS tours and taking care of his family. He finds comfort and strength by attending Mormon temples and recalling the happy memories of his marriage.

Wilcox hopes the contents of “Sunset” will bring a measure of comfort to readers who have lost someone, perhaps shed light on a deeper meaning of love and be an overall blessing. “Sunset” is available wherever LDS books are sold.

“To those who know what it is to lament a dear one’s passing — and ultimately that will be all of us who love — may that love be intensified, grounded on the bedrock of our deepest souls and be made holy by the separation,” Wilcox wrote at the end of his book. “May your sunsets be bright with time’s remembered fullness. And during the dark hours, when the midnight thoughts turn in the mind, may the hope of an awaiting sunrise, on an eternal morning, light your hearts forever.”

Beyond the Sunset with S. Michael Wilcox

Despite the pain of losing his wife to cancer, the experience taught S. Michael Wilcox valuable lessons and led to him to write a new book titled, Sunset: On the Passing of Those We Love. In the book, Wilcox shares sensitive insights for cherishing loved ones, treasuring mortality and how to turn to the Lord in times of adversity. He also shares some of those insights in this interview.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: tbtoone