Dance Me to the End: Ten Months and Ten Days with ALS

Touchwood. Sept. 2019. 256p. ISBN 9781927366868. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781927366875. MEMOIR
Inspired by the Leonard Cohen song Dance Me to the End of Love, this lyrical debut memoir from Acheson (creative writing, Univ. of British Columbia; Learning To Live Indoors) captures life as a series of snapshots, as a couple grows simultaneously closer together and further apart in the wake of a sudden life change. Acheson shares dreams and letters, notes and journal entries from the months after her husband, Marty, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She relates how Marty, a guitarist and music teacher, distracted himself with golf while she found solace in writing and reading. Alternating between hope and acceptance, Acheson recalls her decision to enter the role of caregiver, longing to remember who Marty had been and who he still was. Her prose shines when asking questions with no easy answers, including how and when to disclose to their sons and extended family. As people volunteer information and ideas, and as the family turns to fundraising, she considers the meaning of words such as struggle in relation to illness. For Acheson, caregiving requires humor, flexibility, suspending judgment—and the willingness to accept her husband’s end-of-life wishes.
VERDICT A mesmerizing memoir by a talented writer on coming to terms with the unexpected.

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