Review: Life’s That Way
Shortly after their beloved two-year old daughter, Madeline Rose, was diagnosed with autism, Jim Beaver and Cecily Adams were told that Cecily had Stage IV Lung Cancer. Cecily was determined to fight it and take everything doctors could to throw at her for the sake of Maddie. Rather than update friends and family individually, Jim decided to send out a nightly email to everyone documenting the treatments, their struggles and their emotions.
Life’s That Way by Jim Beaver is a compilation of his emails for a year – the four months of Cecily’s battle with cancer and the first eight months after that while Jim struggled with grief, daily life and raising Maddie (who is doing very well, by the way). Jim bared his soul in these emails and the writing is beautiful, emotional and sad; yet somehow it’s filled with hope and love. He said,
We are thankful for so much, of course. Cec feels a little better every day further from her last chemo treatment. We are blessed with loving friends and family with the kind of generosity I thought only bona fide saints possessed. We love each other, we have food and clothing and shelter and no real fears or worries beyond the big one we face. We have more than most people, even most people we know.
He also said, “If this weren’t the worst thing that ever happened to us, it would be the best thing that ever happened.” The love Jim felt for Cecily is evident in every page of this book and I couldn’t help but think that she was a lucky woman to have someone love her so much. I would find myself crying moments later because of a treatment she had to endure or an event she was forced to miss. One thing I appreciated were the tips he gave for what to say to friends who are coping with grief. He recommends saying things like, “I can’t imagine your pain,” or “I have no idea how you must feel,” rather than “I know how you feel,” or “At least she’s not in pain anymore.” He said hearing ” I don’t know what to say” was more comforting than hearing “It just takes time.”
This memoir is full of emotion and should be sold with a box of tissues. Don’t expect a light read or an easy read; this book is painfully touching and emotionally draining, but oh, so good. It will make you thankful for all you have in your life. There’s one last thought from the book that I want to close with –
All I can say is if you have someone you can share with, someone who cares about your life and wants to be involved in it in some way, any way, then share. Share, share, share. If a day comes when you’ve got no one to share that day with, nor the next nor the next, that’s when you will know what you don’t want to know. That even the best life can be hollowed out in a moment or in a week or in four months.
Jim Beaver is a playwright and actor best known for his roles on Deadwood and Supernatural.
Review copy provided by Folio Literary Management.