This is a chronicle of the last four years in the life of the author's sister, Beth. Shapiro reveals fragments of the family's personal history, bringing to life a troubled and poignant past. A visit from their brother David triggers the memory of a searing betrayal; a visit from their parents recalls bitter quarrels over Beth's radical politics; a visit from Beth's black husband brings the painful memory of their wedding and her parents' refusal to attend. These recollections evoke the unresolved, deeply disturbing issues which kept the Shapiro family estranged, making the reconciliation that Beth's death brings all the more extraordinary. Shapiro gives an account of their responses - horror, relief, impatience, exhaustion, exhilaration, projection, fear, self-criticism and a sense of self-fulfillment - in the presence of the dying. Concluding with a selection of poems, the author affirms the link between creativity and healing; human connection has the power to redeem even the most painful of human experiences.