There is a special tribute for Chad today in the Fayetteville paper. I was honored that someone wanted to hear more about Chad’s story and thought it was a beautiful salute to him.
There will be another story written in the Raleigh News & Observer later this month. I will post a link and the story when it is available.
From the Fayetteville Observer:
by Kim Hasty
In life, Chad Lanford never failed to inspire emotion in his wife.
So much so that Skye Lanford started an online blog in 2006 to apprise friends and family about all the things, big and small, that touched her about life with Chad and their two young daughters.
“Because if I don’t write it down, it’s like it never happened,” she wrote back then, on a page punctuated with a photograph of a pair of pink Hello Kitty rain boots.
It seems fitting, then, that the words her husband inspired are proving to be, in his death, a source of comfort for Skye Lanford.
Chad Lanford died Nov. 10 after a three-year battle with brain cancer. He was 32.
But through his wife’s words, the spirit of his sweet personality lives on.
“You made me better. You made me stronger. You made me smarter. You helped shape me into the best person, wife, mother, friend, daughter and sister I could be.”
Chad and Skye Lanford grew up in the small, tight-knit community of Stedman, where they had known each other since they were children. Chad, salutatorian of the Cape Fear High School class of 1996, was a freshman at N.C. State when a cousin suggested he rekindle his longtime friendship with Skye, who was then a senior at Cape Fear.
And that was pretty much that.
“He was the friend that everybody wanted to have,” Skye said. “He was definitely one of a kind. He was exceptional. He never, ever wasted a moment. I used to beg him to sit down, but he couldn’t. He said he didn’t know what tomorrow would be like.”
In the early, more carefree days of her blog, Skye, who has a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote of things like teething babies, the first day of school, coping with her own Type 1 diabetes and repetitive readings of “How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?”
“Who knew … that my daughter would turn 3 and become a chef overnight? I think the new Play-Doh kitchen is her favorite! … (and) that I would enjoy making a Play-Doh low carb meal to pretend eat with my daughter?”
But then, in November of 2007, Skye and Chad had returned from the 40th anniversary celebration of his parents, Sandy and Bob Lanford. Exhausted, they had fallen asleep when Skye was jolted awake by Chad, who was having a seizure.
In the hospital, where Chad was taken by ambulance, the young couple waited long days for a diagnosis.
“But it’s a lot easier to wait when we know we’re going home today.
To our own bed. And our kids. And to a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal tomorrow.
We have so much to be thankful for.”
When it came, the diagnosis was grim. But Skye continued to chronicle the sometimes sad, but often sweet moments of their last years together in her ever-poetic, if occasionally shaken, fashion.
“We came home and decided to live life as normally as possible,” she said.
Chad, an engineering supervisor for the N.C. Department of Transportation, continued in his work. Skye took care of their family and kept writing.
“Everything was stable until March of 2010 and he felt pretty good,” she said. “But then the tumor had come back with a vengeance.”
Skye and Chad began to accept the inevitable. They jammed all the adventures they could into their last summer together. By the end of the summer, it was clear the cancer was overtaking Chad.
Still, Skye’s depiction in words of her husband’s final months would be a gift to her daughters that would endure.
“We decided we were going to share everything,” she said. “Maybe it could help somebody else. Also, our kids are so young. I was afraid they wouldn’t remember all the special things that made him him. One day they’ll need closure.”
Skye continues to write of the happy moments she still enjoys with her little girls and of the poignant moments, such as going through her husband’s belongings and finding the neck pillow that helped support his head.
“I think I sat there for a good fifteen minutes, crying and sniffing the pillow.”
Her writing, to be sure, will help her through those difficult moments. And it will ensure that the happy moments live on.
“It is a tribute,” she said. “And it’s a therapy.”
Community news editor Kim Hasty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3591.