A memoir examining the complicated nature of death.
Although death-row defense lawyer Dow (Houston Law Center; The Autobiography of an Execution, 2011) is no stranger to the throes of death, when the Grim Reaper knocked on his own family's door, the reality of the situation hit much harder. Thoughtful and full of a pensive sadness, the author intertwines the difficulties of his work, of trying to save a model inmate destined for execution, with reflections, memories and conversations with his dying father-in-law and the painful process of watching his beloved dog, Winona, die. "Time does not heal all wounds," writes the author. "Some pain becomes part of who you are." His pain, born of a profound love for his family and pet, cascaded over into Dow's work, where the need to save a life, regardless of the crime committed, has forced him to try any measure to stay the execution. Meanwhile, his father-in-law struggled with the physical and emotional realities of suffering from a terminal disease and the desire to live life in his own way while trying to juggle the needs of a devoted wife and daughter. The final piece to the triplet of death fell into place when the elderly Winona suffered acute liver failure. The pace of the writing is slow and steady, inexorably moving toward predetermined and unavoidable conclusions. No amount of heroics on the parts of Dow to save the inmate, the doctors to save his father-in-law and friend, or the vet to help the dog can change the outcomes. Hope, love, anger, guilt and despair are some of the emotional waves the author faces head-on and presents to readers in a moving testimony to the will to live. “Our lives end before others notice,” writes Dow, “and the time that spans the distance is the inverse of the grief your loved ones will suffer when you leave them behind.”
Sad and inspiring reflections of what it means to live, love and die.