Finding the Good Among the Bad and the Ugly

photo from FanArtTV via Google Images

This post by Gayle M. Irwin

We received the news as we traveled back to town from our cabin: a friend had tragically died in a motorcycle accident. He was 51 years old. My husband had known Brian Scott Gamroth for nearly two decades. The Casper community had woken up to the sound of his voice on the radio for about that same length of time. All of Wyoming benefited from his presence not only on the air, but also through his charity work. Brian cared about Casper, he cared about Wyoming, and he cared about people. He was a philanthropic individual, a family man, a friend to many, from cowboys to senators, and he was passionate about many things. The radio station, our community, the state, and certainly Brian’s friends and family members, have big holes in their hearts with the sudden and unexpected passing of Brian Scott. So do Greg and I.

Ironically, Brian died not far from where my parents live in Montana, along a highway I often travel when I visit. Even more ironic, my parents were with Greg and I when the news about Brian’s death came via another friend’s text. I’m still sorting out the potential meaning of those ironies; perhaps to be more vigilant as I drive, especially on that roadway; or perhaps to live a generous, passionate, and compassionate life as Brian did. I will likely reflect on these things when I attend his public memorial service tomorrow (sadly, Greg is out of town for work on Monday and not able to attend, but he did create a short video in honor of Brian that will likely be shown during the memorial).

A few days after the stunning news about Brian’s death, I learned that Neva Bodin’s sister had passed. I also learned a friend is experiencing an uncertain health situation (she’s had several rough health goes the past few years), as well as heard about the passing of another’s friend’s 19-year-old cat – the kitty had been part of her life since a young kitten. Other friends are going through financial hardships, as are many in my community and state due to the downturn in the energy sector. Like dark thunderstorm clouds, sadness hangs heavily over hearts and communities I care about; and over mine as well.

img_1705With the bad and the ugly of this past week, however, have been incredible blessings. Autumn arrived and the leaves of bushes and trees in and around Casper are in full fall glory. Casper Mountain, upon which my cabin resides, has exploded with shades of gold, red, and orange. Greg and I took my parents to Rocky Mountain National Park to experience the eons-old mating ritual of Rocky Mountain elk – the bulls (males) bugling, challenging one another for the company of cows (females), gathering harems of those girls and preparing to add to the population of this majestic species.


I traveled to the Black Hills of northeastern Wyoming on Friday in order to attend a day-long writer’s workshop sponsored by a Wyoming writers’ group known as the Bearlodge Writers, named in honor of the Native American name for Devil’s Tower. Again, autumn was in full regalia, with coulees ablaze with crimson, buttermilk, ginger, carrot, lemon, and russet. Mule deer, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys meandered the landscape — and the highway (thankfully, no car-animal collisions occurred!) I interacted with writers during the workshop that I had not seen in years and met new creative friends, and I learned from a woman who not only studied the craft of writing in college, but who has experienced success as a novel writer. I don’t consider myself a novel writer, but it’s an itching I’ve experienced during the past few years that I’ll likely scratch a bit more in the coming months and years – especially after finding precious nuggets of information and encouragement from this workshop and from other writers closest to me.


Within the past weeks of stress and distress I’ve experienced some positives. Mourning loss is necessary, but as I write in my book for owners of blind dogs, “don’t get stuck there.” Depression and discouragement, anger and grief can hammer-lock on us if we allow. Don’t allow! Find the good within the bad and the ugly, whether it be the beauty of nature around you or the encouragement of fellow writers regarding your creativity. We all travel choppy waves in this ocean of life – most of us don’t have smooth sailing across the glassy sea. Sometimes in fact, we experience tidal waves from which we’re sure we’ll drown. My prayer, my hope, my wish, is that each of us, when faced with loss such as unexpected deaths or job layoffs, even rejection of our writing, will do what we must – grieve – but not get stuck there. Instead, find beauty in the ashes, find good among the bad and the ugly, for it is there: we just need to re-discover it, hold fast to it, remember and treasure it.



Gayle_signing photoGayle M. Irwin is a Wyoming author, writer, and speaker. She composes inspirational pet stories for children and adults, including a guidebook for owners of blind dogs. In addition to her own books, her stories been featured in six Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as Sundown Press’ summer release Pawprints on My Heart. Gayle is currently working on three more books, including a children’s cat story, a rescue dog story, and a devotional-style book called Seasons of Life, Seasons of Nature. Learn more about Gayle and her writing at


Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   SageBigAdventureFront-small    BookCoverPreview_Codys Cabin_Aug  Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover   Pawprints Book   Spirit of America book


17 thoughts on “Finding the Good Among the Bad and the Ugly

  1. Joys and sorrows, like hills and valleys, are parts of life. Don’t frown because it’s gone, but smile because it happened. It is very sad about Brian Scott. The colors of autumn are everywhere now, and have been decorating our journey back home from North Dakota.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you’ve had a colorful trip back to Casper. I understand Casper Mountain is loaded with autumn hues; I should try to get up there yet this week before the leaves drop and the snow falls! A week+ of grief — I’m thankful to have had the break with the writers’ workshop and writing time. Peace, my friend!


  2. Your column makes me think of scripture from the book of Job. ‘And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In the hard times, we hold our faith close to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mike — that is a great Scripture to keep close at hand. It’s been a difficult week, and just this evening my husband learned another friend may have pancreatic cancer — the man is awaiting test results. It’s a challenging season, but we truly can say, “The Lord is my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in times of trouble.” I appreciate your comments and encouragement, Mike.


  3. They say we need the lows to appreciate the highs. Whether that is true for everyone I don’t know. I do know life is cycles and learning to flow with the change allows you to grieve when necessary and rejoice in its own time. Loss is hard, but the joys we experience from having the lost loved one in our lives is something to celebrate.

    Beautiful post and so timely. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know many of us have been been going through a difficult season; I am thankful to live in a region where I can breathe in the beauty of creation, to stop for a few moments and take deep, cleansing breaths, and lean on special people, even those living far away. I appreciate your comments and encouragement, Doris; I value and appreciate our friendship (I may be back to Colorado in October! 🙂 )


  4. So much tragedy. Today I praise the Lord my niece is alive. She had a 4 wheeler accident and she’s in bad shape, but with prayer she is doing better today than yesterday. Her family has suffered two car accidents, her husband lost his job, git a new job, then lost part of his finger in an accident at work, and various other issues with her other children. I know they are ready for a new year. I am still recouping from both surgeries. Cher’ley.


    1. It seems like so many people around us are struggling and yes, a lot of tragedy. I’m ready to just to hide out at my cabin and be like a bear — hibernate through winter! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment, Cher’ley.


  5. I’m so sorry about your friend, Gayle. What a lovely tribute to him in your post. I’m glad you had some time to relax and regroup at the writer retreat. It’s important to do things you enjoy and be with loved ones during this time.


    1. Thanks so much, Sarah, for your thoughtful words. Brian was an amazing man — his absence will be/is greatly felt. Sometimes it’s hard to sort through the “bad and the ugly,” especially when they all pile in at once. I try daily to think of at least three things to be thankful for so that I can remember there is still good despite the challenges and loss. The retreat, and being with friends at the ranch, certainly helped. I appreciate you reading my post and commenting.


  6. What a lovely post, Gayle. If more of us would look at the positive instead of the negative we’d be much happier. I really like your words and outlook about not only a death, but also life. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Sometimes, Linda, it’s difficult to find that good — I’ve really struggled this week after Brian’s public memorial on Monday: quite emotional. I’m heading to the cabin on Saturday, and reconnecting with my special place where God always meets me, just as He did on the drive last weekend and the friends I re-connected with. Thank you for reading and for your encouragement and kindnesses.


  7. That’s sad to read, Gayle. It’s so true that after, and even as we mourn the loss of people we know, we also need to move on because no one knows what’s on that road, that journey of life. It’s tough sometimes to fit in with other daily life, but having a go with things that appeal to you is so important…and might also have been important to those who are now gone.


  8. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. That can leave such a hole in your life. A dear friend died several years ago, and I still miss her every day. But, as for the good–I had her in my life, and I’m grateful for that every day, too.


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