Top positive review
a story of love and light
on February 20, 2015
I read this beautiful tribute and memoir in tandem with Living in the Light of Death by Larry Rosenberg as part of a course on contemplative caregiving. As a volunteer in hospice, I am privileged to be of service to people and their families during their final days and Heaven's Coast provided insights on how that time can be for a family. Mark Doty describes some of the helpful and unhelpful behaviors that his partner's hospice team demonstrated and I learned a lot from his sharing of that experience.
Mark is such a talented writer - I literally stopped and re-read sentences over and over again because they were so powerful.
Talking about his grief and contemplating life without his beloved partner Wally, Mark writes: "The future’s an absence, a dark space up ahead like the socket of a pulled tooth. I can’t quite stay away from it; hard as I may try."
Describing a friend who is also close to dying: "Is there a luminous threshold where the self becomes irreducible, stripped to the point where all that’s left to see is pure soul, the essence of character? Here, in unfailing self-ness, is no room or energy for anything inessential, for anything less than what counts."
Everything Mark chronicled, from Wally and their relationship, to their dogs Arden and Beau, to Cape Cod, to their eclectic group of friends, all came alive for me through this story.
While there are many sad moments, overall this is a story of love and light and I feel richer for having read it.