…There is some firm place in me which knows that what happened to Wally, whatever it was, whatever it is that death is as it transliterates us, moving us out of this life into what we can’t know, is kind. I shock myself, writing that. I know that many deaths are anything but gentle. I know people suffer terribly…I know many die abandoned, unseen, their stories unheard, their dignity violated, their human worth ignored. I suspect that the ease of Wally’s death, the rightness of it, the loving recognition which surrounded him, all made it possible for me to see clearly, to witness what other circumstances might obscure. I know, as surely as I know anything, that he’s all right now.And yet. And yet he’s gone, an absence so forceful it is itself a daily hourly presence. My experience of being with Wally… brought me to another sort of perception, but I can’t stay in that place, can’t sustain that way of seeing. The experience of knowing, somehow, that he’s all right, lifted in some kind process that turns at the heart of the world, gives way, as it must, to the plain aching fact that he’s gone. And doubt. And the fact that we can’t understand, that it’s our condition to not know. Is that our work in the world, to learn to dwell in such not-knowing? We need our doubt so as to not settle for easy answers. Not-knowing pushes us to struggle after meaning for ourselves…Doubt’s lesson seems to be that whatever we conclude must be provisional, open to revision, subject to correction by forces of change. Leave room, doubt says, for the unknowable, for what it will never quite be your share to see. Stanley Kunitz says somewhere that if poetry teaches us anything, it is that we can believe two completely contradictory things at once. And so I can believe that death is utter, unbearable rupture, just as I know that death is kind.'s Coast: A Memoir
Mark Doty