High Highs and Low Lows

December 1st will always be remembered as the ultimate rollercoster of emotions for me and my family. Our first grandchild was born. He came naturally on November 30th in the middle of the night. (My babies always wanted to come in the middle of the night!) So we hurried over the next morning, shortly after he was born, to cast our eyes on the most perfect newborn baby, with flowing red hair. (I’m a little biased. But it’s no lie, he is absolutely adorable!) As we reluctantly tore ourselves away from the happy couple and the just-hatched peanut, my husband called his mom with the exciting news.


She was not in good shape due to metastatic cancer and kidney failure, and she was currently under at-home hospice care. (The home was my sister in-law’s. I appreciate her patience, love, and the unwavering care she and her family showed my mother in-law.) Even though his mother was weak, she congratulated us. Just about ten minutes later we got a call back from his sister. She told us immediately after his mother received the glorious news of the baby’s arrival, she passed away. Heart hitting the floor. We went from a top-of-the-world high to a bottom-of-the-sea low in under an half an hour! (Chills)

I’ve been to a professional basketball game that was a buzzer beater. The excited crowd instantaneously lost all their energy when their team lost at the final bell. It was a lot like that.

But worse.

What do you do when all air goes out of your balloon?

You eat. 

My husband and I were hungry and torn, so we went to a deafeningly quiet Chinese lunch. We did finally talk about the baby, Christmas, the house, and tried to avoid the heartbreaking elephant in the room that we didn’t want to discuss. (There was no sad elephant in the restaurant. It’s only an expression!)

She was like my second mother. (I lucked out in the mother in-law department.) 

I believe, without our faith we could have been two piles of mush. But we both know, even though we will miss her, she has graduated on to a better place. Christ made it possible for us to see her again. Little baby Asher posesses a new guardian angel. Heaven was at maximum capacity, so they traded places. (Who knows, I could be right?)

We need to celebrate. 

Celebrate a wonderful life that was lived, and a new life yet to be lived. We must find a way to celebrate in spite of what life throws our way. That is how I am making sense of it. 

Just celebrate. No matter what.

What a wonderful daughter to care for her in her last days!

The Dance

Much Beckstead history is related to this song. When I hear it, I am carried back to days gone by. We lost three important pieces of the family puzzle within about four years. My husband’s nephew, brother and father all left us prematurely. We named our son after all of them, in a way. (Riley is Ryan and Billy combined, and his middle is a family name.) This family is not strangers to loss and hard times. At each funeral the song, “The Dance,” by Garth Brooks was played.

The haunting, yet beautiful, beginning and ending measures of solitary piano notes mean love and loss to me. It is difficult to hold the water works due to the history it encompasses for me. I adore the message of this song.

The other day I heard it on the radio and back washed the memories of those beloved, but I also possess a new perspective of this song post-stroke.

I am truly happy it wasn’t sung for me in August 2016. (I can’t lie!) I have experienced loss though. Loss for my former life. Loss for what could’ve been. Loss for over a year of the everyday times I missed with my family.

What would I have done if I was aware this event was coming? How would I have prepared? What would’ve I appreciated more? Would I have cleaned the house more or spent an increased amount of time expressing my love. (Would I have ridden a bull named Fumanchu? Wrong song.) But my attention might have been elsewhere. I could have missed “the dance.” So many wonderful times I experienced before… 

I believe it’s more advantageous I didn’t comprehend what the future held. But if I could have changed it, would I have? (Well, yeah!) But looking back on the things I have learned, the actual wisdom I now possess, the awesome people I have met, the dear friends who have reached out to me and grown closer, the unbelievably kind acts of service given to me and my family, the home remodel I’ve wanted for years (a big-time honey-do,) the heartfelt “I love you’s” spoken, the incredibly loyal and capable husband I rediscovered, and the faith, hope, and sheer will I have acquired, or enhanced – I wonder. 

Did this great tragedy shape who I am now? Is this my ultimate test? (How long will it last? I am seriously over it.) But I understand I don’t get to pass go and collect two hundred dollars. I won’t receive a free pass through the pearly gates. I still must continue to endure and genuinely be a good person throughout my life.

The moral to this story – Live each day to the fullest. Be “the king,” and take charge of your life. Grab life by the horns, and hold on tight. With the sour comes the sweet. See the good in each and every one of your trials.

“I could’ve missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss – the – dance.”