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Life's That Way: A Memoir Hardcover – April 16, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Beaver, an actor, playwright and film historian, collects a series of riveting, heartfelt e-mails chronicling the courageous cancer battle of his beloved wife, Cecily, from her diagnosis of lung cancer to her death in little over a year. Unafraid to examine their life together and his acting career as a performer on two popular TV dramas, the role of Ellsworth on Deadwood and Bobby Singer on Supernatural, he kept family and friends informed with his nightly online messages of Cecily's deteriorating status and the bittersweet childhood of their autistic daughter, Maddie. The revealing e-mails depict the somber travail of Beaver on the horrific death watch of his wife, and detail the roller-coaster ride of emotion from hoping for a speedy halt to the disease's onslaught to experiencing the dark abyss of loss. After the death of his father during this time, he writes: This year of writing has freed me from the shackles I don't know I could have borne otherwise. While this cancer memoir often chills the reader to the core with pain and frustration, it offers countless reasons to cheer Beaver as a remarkable man, a loving husband and a responsible single parent. (Apr.)
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"To have known and read this man over these years, reveals to me I knew nothing of what love could and should be." --Edward Asner
"When this journal first appeared, I learned to keep a jumbo-size box of tissues at the ready. You will cry-- and laugh--as Jim unwraps his unvarnished heart and soul. It will evoke memories of everyone who ever touched your heart and remind you to talk from your heart to the people who mean something to you." --Russell Friedman, coauthor of The Grief Recovery Handbook and When Children grieve
"Jim Beaver, the laconic character actor best known as the appealing prospector, "Ellsworth," on Deadwood has written a compassionate, funny, searing, and ultimately transcending memoir chronicling a year of tragedy, grief, and survival that would send the strongest of men, even an ex-marine and West Texas preacher's son, to their knees. As Jim puts it, "I'm no Job - though I think we went to the same school." That his story is so compulsively readable, inspiring, and ultimately hopeful is due entirely to Jim's bracing honesty, dry humor, and deeply felt humanity. Read this book, tell your friends about it, and then go hug your loved ones." --Robert Schenkkan, Pulitzer Prize winner for The Kentucky Cycle.
"Life's That Way is a gift of a book and one that will join Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking as a classic exploration of love and grief. It removes the clinical and focuses on the personal, revealing that "there's no end to the new ways one can experience such a cataclysm," and shows that, unbelievable as it is, life does go on. And we go with it. "I can't recommend this book highly enough. It will give you pause to reflect on your own relationships and experiences and to think about what your commitments really mean, and it will remind you that even in the worst of situations, people have a wonderful way of reaching out to help and support each other in astonishingly simple and profound ways. 5 out of 5." --Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog, May 5, 2009
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Top customer reviews
This book is one to be read in small doses. I started it in February and took until May to finish.
It is the unembellished near-nightly emails that Mr. Beaver shared with an ever-expanding group of family and friends when his wife, Cecily, was diagnosed with cancer. It takes us through the journey of her treatment for the six or so months leading up to her death and then beyond, into the story of survival.
It is hard to read this book because for anyone who has experienced intense grief, his open, Band-Aid-has-been-pulled-off, writing style digs directly into your heart and makes you feel. All over again or anew or still or wherever your heart is in your grieving. You will ride those waves again and identify with his descriptions of loss and courage and succumbing to your emotions over and over.
My edition has dog-eared pages, highlighted passages and dated notes scribbled in the margins. One phrase repeatedly resounds, “…nothing I’ve picked up from the grief of others in the course of my life has prepared me for what this feels like.” I couldn’t agree more.
Another passage that struck with full force is: “But I recall thinking then that the loneliest place on earth was an empty house from which someone had deliberately left you. Not true. The loneliest place on earth is an empty house from which someone was taken from you.”
In chapter twelve, he speaks of pushing himself to listen to a passage of music that had been a favorite shared with his wife. Of making himself do it, to get through it, to get to the other side. In living through loss in my life, I discovered, too, this need to push on, to succumb to the emotions, the grief as it coursed through my heart and physically through my body. It is the way to survive grief that wrecks your heart.
If you are brave, read this book.
If you are stuck in a place of loss or grief, read this book.
If you are close to someone going through the death of a loved one, read this book and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a new way to help them see that Life’s That Way
I bought this book in the beginning because I am a fan of his work on Supernatural, but I can't put it down because of the story itself. You forget that's he's an actor, and you see him as the person he truly is--a loving, devoted husband, father, son, and friend. He's not anymore perfect than any of the rest of us, but he sure seems to have been "raised right".
That being said, I have to say that Mr. Beaver is an excellent writer. Rather than sound like the teacher that I am, just allow me to say that Mr. Beaver knows his stuff. You won't find anything to distract from the content of the book at all. I'm glad he continues to write, and I hope to read more of his works.
Why not? It is a very moving story of a man whose world turned upside down. First their long-anticipated arrival of their daughter was turned on its head because of the autism diagnosis. Then in the midst of moving, Cecily, his wife, experienced severe back pain and chest pains, of which they both attributed to pulled muscles. It wouldn't go away though, so they went to the doctor. And the rest is history.
This is an incredible story of faith and love. It is a very honest story as well ... it will take you through the dark valleys and the incredible highs of the mountains in Beaver's story of love and faith and discouragement and grief. I cannot imagine the depths of what he went through but that's only because I haven't lost my spouse. Not only was he struggling with his wife's cancer news, his father was dying and his brother-in-law was undergoing treatment for brain cancer. It was a tough year for the Beavers.
One might suspect that he would have moments of self-pity in this book but while he did, it was not as often as one suspected. He snapped out of it and was humble in the realization, that while this was going on, it was also happening everywhere. I did not get a sense of conscendation from him. He was honest, brutually so and he admitted that in the dark days after Cecily's death, their daughter was the biggest reason why he kept on going. He had to. Simple as that.
I think this book would be a great asset for survivors of cancer ... simply because he has been there and he knows what it is like. To paraphrase another famous author's quote, "One reads to know that he is not alone." (C.S. Lewis) This book does exactly that.
So grab a box of kleenexs and read this book knowing full well of a man's anguish and worries and yet, finding joy in memories.