Journalist Katy Butler was living on the other side of the country when she got the call that her 79-year-old father had suffered a crippling stroke due to his failing heart. She quickly flew across the country and joined her elderly mother to be at her father’s bedside. She watched as doctors fitted her father with a pacemaker that saved his heart but did nothing to prevent her father from falling into a “slow decline” toward death. Where is the line between saving a life and prolonging death? With her scientific background, her gift for storytelling, and her ability to look at a systemic problem in our medical system, Butler set out to explore this challenge. But her quest had barely begun when her mother was suddenly faced with a harsh diagnosis of her own. Having just watched her husband get trapped in a medical labyrinth, Butler’s mother refused treatment and decided to look at death straight on, without medical intervention other than palliative care. Butler’s experience of watching her parents go through aging and dying in these two very different ways led her to Slow Medicine, a movement toward reclaiming “good deaths.” Part memoir, part medical history, and part spiritual quest, Knocking on Heaven’s Door is riveting and beautifully written, and it also bravely poses questions that can help all of us relook at the scared path of death and dying. Don’t miss our event with Katy Butler on July 10th.