Tuesday, November 22, 2016

They don't all go gently into that good night

Tonight I attended the funeral of a patient I'd barely gotten to know before he told me he didn't need my coming around any longer. He went, in the course of less than a year, from 300+ pounds to the less than 90 pounds at which he died.

What made being there tough wasn't that he had told me I wasn't needed--I rarely take things like that personally--but that his death was so agitated. He fought, I'm told, to the last moments, flailing, swinging, muttering, so that his mother compared him to a very old man held under water. But he was less than 40 and the quiet death, I find, rarely appeals to the young.

I don't know whether to admire him or pity him. Personally, dying peacefully is my dream, as I think it is for many others. Alternatively, given his history, if anyone deserved to be pissed off at the lousy cards he was dealt, it was him, and maybe fighting until every last breath is exhausted is the way some should go. I'm uncertain, ultimately, what to make of it. We spoke of it, his family and I, in a mix of awe and sadness, and perhaps that's the best epitaph someone so young can hope for.

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