Brett and Lindsay Beel with Nolan Beel

Find the Beels’ display at First Lutheran Church, 615 Grant Street.

“There was a good chance that we would not have survived. At the worst moment where it may not go well, I figured out something: Your life is not really yours.”

I was in college on a climbing trip with my dad and friends. We tried to climb Mt. Temple in the Canadian Rockies. It was a bad year for snow, but we didn’t know that. We went up a couloir that we shouldn’t have gone up, and there was rock fall. The big rock fall came when we were halfway up the mountain. We couldn’t go back down. One of the ropes got cut in half. Rocks would sizzle in the air past our ears.

It was a big ordeal. We survived, but there was a good chance that we would not have. When I was there at the worst moment where it may not go well, I figured out something. I’m agnostic, so whether or not there’s an afterlife, I don’t know. But I do know that people care about me. Your life is not really yours. Other people are more important than you.

My family is the most important thing to me. I’m a physician and it changed how I talk with patients. How you talk to the family of patients is so important. It’s not just the patient, it’s everyone, especially at end-of-life discussions. I had a case the other day where there was a guy who was 87, had fallen. He had a terrible head bleed. It’s hard to predict, but he wasn’t going to come back from it. You can’t push too hard, but I tried to be clear with his wife. They’d been married for 53 years. Now she’s alone. She wanted to keep him going, and we tried that. We did a craniotomy and all the big stuff, but now he’s comfort measures only. Those decisions are massive because relationships are so important to life.

We got married, had a baby, moved to the other side of the country, and bought a house in one year. I think I covered all the changes! We moved from California to Pennsylvania and bought a house, sight unseen. In one year, all of the leaps of faith.

But I’ve always had to change. It felt like a lot of work, but it didn’t feel insurmountable. The way that we were welcomed into Pittsburgh made it feel really good. I didn’t have a community in California. Being a mom is a lot easier now that I have a community in Pittsburgh.

Always Made New