A HEALING TOUCH: TRUE STORIES OF LIFE, DEATH, AND HOSPICE, ed. Richard Russo (Down East Books, April, 2008)
The impulse behind A HEALING TOUCH: TRUE STORIES OF LIFE, DEATH, AND HOSPICE, ed. Richard Russo (Down East Books, April, 2008) is salubrious—or as salubrious as tough times will permit. Its purpose is to awaken long and short-term sufferers of chronic and acute illness—and their caretakers—to the help, the surcease available from hospice care.
In its pages, Richard Russo and five other writers from Maine depict the dark worlds of individuals beset by the demons of death and disease. The stories vary from parents attempting to recover after their son’s sudden death in an auto accident to a couple trying to live with Alzheimer’s disease's depredations.
The skills of the authors also vary, with Russo's writing leading their ranks. Still, their messages are the same. They show how smart Socrates was (actually, nobody except his son ever doubted Socrates's brain power) when he said, “Count no man happy until he’s dead.” Each tale shows people flourishing only to be cut down by the evil spirits lurking on the edges of life.
This little book hones in only, albeit nobly, on the Hospice Volunteers of the Waterville (Maine) Area. The proceeds from its sales will go to the Waterville Hospice. As such, it serves the world of an individual hospice in Maine. It even seems to be a marketing tool for this specific hospice.
But tragedy doesn't limit itself to Waterville, Maine. The rest of us sufferers and caretakers who live outside Waterville’s gray skies, may find A HEALING TOUCH’s focus too narrow to offer us the helping hand we crave. The possibility of awakening non-Maine dwellers to the varieties of surcease offered by their own local hospices is then regrettably limited.
It might be worthwhile for Down East Books to consider publishing a companion volume along these lines. Such a book would include other hospices and writers from all over the country. Individuals everywhere who have been victimized by life’s depredations could then find resources and support that they need so badly.
Meantime, readers of A HEALING TOUCH may unearth suggestions about where to find help from their local hospices. We hope so.