“I’ve learned that in the midst of heartbreak, nothing on earth is more valuable than talking about it and having open hearts ready to hear it,” said actor, playwright, and film historian, 59-year-old Jim Beaver.
Life’s That Way, a memoir by Beaver, is a compilation of one family’s journey through life’s hardships and how that journey affected and touched the people around them. In August of 2003 Beaver and his wife, 45-year-old Cecily Adams, actress and casting director of ‘That 70’s Show’ were informed that their 2-year-old daughter Madeline Rose was autistic. A mere six weeks later Beaver’s world crumbled down around him when wife Cecily was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.
Life’s That Way is not only a day-to-day progression of Cecily’s condition, but a confessional for Beaver’s thoughts and feelings. What started out as nightly emails to inform friends and family of Cecily’s fight became a true testament of love, companionship and the rocky road brought with it. Within this 320 page novel, Beaver invites readers into his life, his home, and his heart as he navigates the murky waters of living with life’s everyday troubles as well as the added ups and downs of a spouse afflicted with cancer, and how to handle life after the battle is lost.
With each stroke of a key Beaver revealed the depths with which you could love another human being. He marveled at Cecily’s bravery and dedication to fighting the “elephant” in the house for their daughter. He was in awe with the intensity of love, well wishes, and assistance that poured through and was received by their friends, family, and even strangers.
And he was inspired by the hope and faith that so many immersed his family in, to keep on fighting through the anger, frustration, and pain. Life’s That Way is gritty and real, not baring the reader from any of the ugly truths or thoughts that go through one’s head in this situation. This novel takes readers from the moment Beaver’s life changed, into a hurricane of chemotherapy, herbal treatments, spiritual treatments, and familial disagreements; exploring the emotional, physical and mental changes that take place throughout a voyage like theirs. Just four short month’s after her diagnosis, Cecily lost her fight to the “elephant” on March 3, 2004 at 8:05 a.m.
For the next eight months Beaver shared his grief with those closest to him along with 4,000 strangers. Some days were filled with laughter and accomplishment as he watched his daughter grow, strive, and surpass all expectations that were set for her. Other days were dark, when an overwhelming ache filled him at the loss of an amazing woman who was not only his wife, but his best friend.
For 320 pages I followed his story. I cried with him, laughed with him, and felt connected to life in a way I haven’t for a while. I’ve found love and lost it as many have and because of that I’ve been known to close my heart to others when it comes to finding love. At one point in this book Beaver feared that opening up and letting one of his darkest thoughts free would lead to people to question his love for his wife.
But for me, it only made it that much more genuine. Love is not perfect and neither was his relationship with Cecily. They embraced the bad, the good, and created an amazing life together full of love. The way Beaver loved his wife bleed through every entry of this novel. Every word, every statement, every irritated and frustrated thought held a connection to her that anyone with eyes could see he treasured. If I could quote paragraphs from this book I would, but since I can’t I’ll leave you with one thought and a hope that someday I can find a person who loves me the way he loved and probably always will love her.
“It’s not the end, of course. I am beginning the next part of my life. I welcome it, with open arms and open heart…but it’s time to move on, not from these experiences, but from the procedure begun unwittingly a year ago tonight. Its purpose is served. I think…and Life’s that way. No bye-bye,” wrote Beaver.