Rushville Republican

Entertainment

February 4, 2014

Book review: "Things I've Learned from Dying: A Book about Life"

A book by David R. Dow

Just one more bedtime story.

You wanted that as a child because you’ve always been someone who hates endings (one more for the road). Everyone knows you never get out the door on time (let me just look again). Coat on, hat on, and you start another story (did I tell you…?).

“Goodbye” sounds so final and it’s not a bad thing that you can’t take your leave. But, as in the new book “Things I’ve Learned from Dying” by David R. Dow, sometimes, it’s time to go.

The crime was horrifying for its brutality: four teenagers broke into the home of an eighty-four-year-old woman, slinked upstairs to where she was watching TV in bed, took her car keys, and killed her. Later, Texas law allowed Eddie Waterman, who did not shoot the fatal bullet, to be sentenced to die for the crime.

In Huntsville, where “inmates spend twenty-three hours a day in a sixty-square-foot cell with… a slit of translucent plastic for a window” David Dow met Waterman, his new client. Dow, a lawyer for Death Row inmates, had been down this road before. At their first meeting, he “did the math” and figured Waterman would “be dead in twenty-eight months.” Still, he would try to overturn the sentence.

Dow’s father-in-law, Peter, asked why Dow wanted to save Waterman’s life. It was a good question from a man who was dying himself: Peter had metastatic melanoma.

But as hard as Dow fought to save the life of Waterman, who had nothing and wanted to live, Peter, who had everything to live for, wanted to die. Every possible legal chance was used to help Waterman’s plight; Dow and his team even put themselves in danger of disbarment. Meanwhile, Dow’s wife, Katya, desperately searched for viable alternative treatments for her father, who’d decided there’d be no more chemotherapy.

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