Chris Spielman on his book, Mother's Day

May, 13, 2012
5/13/12
10:18
AM ET
With today being Mother's Day, former NFL veteran and now ESPN college football analyst Chris Spielman will take his four kids to the cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, to visit his wife, Stefanie, whose 11-year battle with cancer took her life in November 2009.

"It's not going to be easy, but we will focus on the memories and the celebration of her life," said Spielman, who has four children ranging from ages 9 to 18. "While we're there, we'll say prayers and tell her things going on in our life today. On the way home, the car will be filled with laughter and song."

[+] EnlargeSpelman Book
Stefanie Spielman died of cancer in 2009, and Chris Spielman released this book this spring.
Spielman said this is just part of the new normal for his family after his wife passed away after a fifth battle with cancer. He wrote a book -- "That's Why I'm Here: The Stefanie and Chris Spielman Story" -- to talk about Stefanie's fight and what life is like today.

"All families have challenges but it's about getting through those firsts. You have to learn to adjust," said Spielman, who was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame after a standout career at Ohio State University. "My children would obviously love having their mother back healthy, but that's not going to happen. So we need to focus on what we do have."

And that means Spielman has learned the most important thing of being a fill-in mom: "Patience."

"That's what Stefanie was go great about with our children. She knew how to deal with things. I'm now having to take a female perspective on arguments and not just rushing to judgment. It's about debates," Spielman said. "I know that Stefanie is proud of me. In an emergency room one time, she patted me on my hand and said, 'You've proven to me that you can do this.' And I knew what she meant. She was at peace and could go home."

It wouldn't be surprising if the Spielman family today rewatches the videotape Stefanie made before passing away.

"She said for us never to use death as an excuse for anything but motivation for everything," Spielman said. "I would say this on Mother's Day to any woman battling cancer: Today is a good day. Tomorrow looks pretty good. After that, nobody knows. So just live for today."

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