Local author Dotty Holcomb Doherty promised her friend Janet that she would write Janet’s story. Janet and Dotty had met as many of us do, through their children; Janet’s and Dotty’s daughters were in Girl Scouts together. Their bonding deepens in a kayak on Duvall Creek, five years after Dotty started leading the scout troop, almost three years after Dotty was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and fifteen years after Janet was given six months to live following surgery unable to completely remove the cancer in her sinuses.

Janet’s story is one of twenty years of bravery despite disfiguring surgeries and experimental drug trials fiercely researched by her husband, all to continue to live and love her family. Over shared love of the ducks, birds and the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay during their kayak trips and later during talks and shared books in Janet’s home, Janet’s and Dotty’s friendship deepened. Janet’s story embodies the bravery and possibility of love in the face of horror.

When Dotty’s multiple sclerosis prevented her from continuing to teach, she floundered at first. Brilliantly she has found a way to teach through writing, poetry and photography honoring nature and how it empowers our spirit. Many have been touched by her writing for Bay Weekly and What’s Up Annapolis/ Eastern Shore and by her wildlife photography both local and from far off travels. In “Buoyant,” she demonstrates how we can all receive healing from time in the wild and in quiet.

I have had the gift of Dotty’s example and friendship for years. I am honored to share this book that is a song and prayer honoring the life of Janet, the journey of those with visible and invisible challenges and the healing power of family, friendship and the natural world.

Buoyant: What Held Us Up When Our Bodies Let Us Down

by Dotty Holcomb Doherty; New Bay Books, 2021

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