Best Health

LIV­ING, DY­ING AND WHAT YOU LEAVE BE­HIND

Dak­shana Bas­cara­murty’s new book doc­u­ments a ter­mi­nally-ill father’s lessons for his young son.

- By CHRISTINA VAR­DA­NIS

I SUS­PECTED THAT This Is Not the End of Me: Lessons on Liv­ing from a Dy­ing Man might not be a breezy read. Sure enough, it prompted an ugly cry for the ages. But what sur­prised me about this book is that it’s also full of light.

The author, Toronto-based jour­nal­ist Dak­shana Bas­cara­murty, fell into Lay­ton Reid’s life al­most by accident. She hired the pho­tog­ra­pher to shoot her Hal­i­fax wed­ding; a year later, Reid, then 33, in­vited Bas­cara­murty to doc­u­ment his life, which had just been shaken by a ter­mi­nal cancer di­ag­no­sis, shortly af­ter learn­ing he was go­ing to be a father.

Bas­cara­murty, Reid and his fam­ily spent the next few years ric­o­chet­ing be­tween the highs and lows of new parenthood, an un­pre­dictable ill­ness and his im­mi­nent death. She cov­ers the dark­est parts of the jour­ney with in­cred­i­ble em­pa­thy. The re­sult is an un­flinch­ing look at what it’s like to live with a ter­mi­nal di­ag­no­sis and the crush­ing toll care­giv­ing can take on fam­i­lies. But ul­ti­mately, it’s a love story.

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