In 2007, professor Randy Pausch became an overnight sensation when his “last lecture” at Carnegie Mellon hit the Internet. Given less than a year before he died of pancreatic cancer, his inspiring presentation about achieving childhood dreams has been viewed almost 15 million times, and his subsequent book, The Last Lecture, became a bestseller. By his side throughout as wife, caregiver and mother to their three young children was Jai Pausch, who has become an advocate for pancreatic cancer research since Randy’s death.
Jai’s memoir, Dream New Dreams: Reimagining My Life After Loss, continues the story that inspired so many. The death of a spouse is one of life’s most difficult experiences, but as Jai illustrates, when it comes with a battle with terminal illness, the struggle is compounded. Struck by the isolation she felt as she was thrust into the role of caregiver, she’s written the book as a way to reach out to others who are navigating similar situations. Ultimately a story of hope, she writes about the challenges of being a caregiver to a cancer patient, adjusting to single motherhood and helping her children grieve, as well as how she was able to let go of the past and move on.
In an excerpt from the book, below, Jai reveals how she fell in love with Randy after a failed marriage. Scroll further down for a roundup of helpful books about caregiving, loss and grieving.