A Sense of the Fitness of Things

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Don Byrne, his wife and two young children live on a rural Chatham County farmstead without indoor plumbing or electricity. As part of his meditative life, Don handcrafts pine coffins using wood from North Carolina: “When I set out to make a
 coffin, I try to donate one breath to the intention of making something that’s worthy of the person who will use it.” That person is 90-year-old Sarah Overton Partridge, who is in the final stage of Alzheimer’s. Sarah’s daughter, Ann, who has hired Don to
 make a coffin for her mother, struggles with the sadness of her mother’s decline but also welcomes her death as a release from suffering. As Don works to finish it before Sarah’s death, both families confront the mystery and pain of impermanence.

Arts & Culture


Lisa Sorg