ABOUT "Life's That Way"
In the summer of 2003 things were shaping up perfectly for actor Jim Beaver
and his wife Cecily Adams
(the daughter of TV legend Don Adams
of Get Smart fame). A year earlier he had landed a starring role on what was about to become the critically acclaimed HBO drama Deadwood
. He was also in the process of finishing a long-aborning book on the life of TV Superman George Reeves
. Cecily had her own fan following from her acting work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and was simultaneously ensconced as one of TV's most respected casting directors. More important, they were the proud parents of Madeline Rose, a delicious two-year-old they had struggled through horrifically difficult fertility treatments to conceive. And they were building their dream house, just a block from Cecily's studio office, which would allow Cecily to walk home to see her baby at lunch every day. Life, family, home, and career. They had it all. And then their world imploded. In less than two months Jim and Cecily's child was diagnosed as autistic. And Cecily, a nonsmoking health nut, learned she had inoperable Stage IV lung cancer. Jim immediately began writing a nightly email as a way to keep 125 family members and friends up-to-date about her condition. From there his emails spread and soon 4,000 people a day, all around the world, were getting the updates. Initially a cathartic exercise for Jim, the prose turned into an unforgettable journey for his readers.
LIFE'S THAT WAY: A Memoir
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam; April 16, 2009) is Jim Beaver's day-by-day chronicle of the year his life as he knew it was torn asunder. Cecily died four months after being diagnosed. Through that time of treatment and the unimaginable gifts of support and friendship they received from many sources—and through the following eight months in which Jim and his daughter Maddie went on alone learning to live again—the book reveals their experience and provides extraordinary insight and inspiration for surviving the loss of a loved one. Like Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie
or Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture
, this memoir is about the death of a loved one, but also very much about life. Written straight from the heart with extraordinary humor amidst great sadness, it is a story not just of travail, but also one of love and generosity, of unfathomable human kindness, and of wondrous gifts and invaluable lessons for living."
An Excerpt from "Life's That Way"
JUNE 8, 2004
I once went to Madison, Wisconsin to do some research for one of my books. I was there a little over a week, working in the archives all day and seeing no one all day or night in any social sense. I enjoyed the visit, as I always enjoy visiting towns I've never been to before. But after about five or six days, I caught myself talking out loud to myself while walking down the street, from the pure need for a sense of interaction (however false a sense it was). I'm getting that way around here. Today, one of Maddie's therapists put her hand on my arm while talking to me, and it was a shocking sensation. For some reason it gave me almost a flashback. I get the occasional hug whenever I run into anyone I know these days, but just having someone reach out and touch my arm was warming in some different kind of way. It was personal without being formalized, I suppose, and it caused feelings to well up in me, a sense of echo and remembrance of Cec touching my hand or arm as we talked.
I had no idea a person was so many things, that her abduction from my life would leave such numerous and varied voids. It's not hearing her voice, it's not smelling her hair, it's not seeing her things in new arrangements in her closet or on her nightstand, it's not seeing her car move for months, it's not seeing her favorite foods diminish in the refrigerator or pantry, it's not being called on my various omissions or commissions. It's realizing that it doesn't matter any more if the sheets are tight and wrinkle-free on the bed, that no one leaves the cap off the toothpaste any more, that no one says, "What's wrong?" if I don't speak for half an hour, that no one's reading all those Humane Society newsletters and Pottery Barn catalogs that keep coming in the mail. It's realizing that this is forever and still not believing it. It's knowing I could pour a bucket of purple paint over the stair rail into the hallway below and nobody would be upset.
It's knowing I could bring home ten dozen red roses and a string quartet and nobody would be happy. It's hard and it's relentless and it's got more facets than a crateful of engagement rings. And every time I know, I just KNOW, that I've plumbed the final depths of it, I find some new trench, some new surprise.
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.
One may be the loneliest number, but there's an equation that's lonelier still:
2 - 1 = 1.
Somebody ought to come up with a new way of doing math.