Few days ago, someone left a Mark’s & Spencer’s package at our doorstep. We thought, someone has played serious secret santa with us, bringing joy to our lives with these beautiful and one-of-its-kind gifts. Happily, we opened the box and there was this book kept as gift for us to read. There were more treats in the box apart for this book. However, not sure why.. this book attracted my attention and I read the entire book from cover-to-cover in 2-3 days. And honestly, “What a book”, bravo to the author and bravo to his family for putting out his work posthumously.
All lives have equal value. But some deaths seem particularly cruel. Amazingly written and tear-dropping epilogue from Lucy Kalanithi
When Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, he was a 36-year-old on the verge of making big contributions to the world in neurology. He was a gifted doctor—a chief resident in neurosurgery at Stanford just months away from completing the most demanding training of any clinical field. As if that was not enough, he was determined to leave something behind for his daughter to read when she grows up.
What a talent. What a loss.
Thanks to this book, He brings you not just into his journey as a doctor and then as a patient but also into his role as a husband, which was sorely strained at times by the rigors of his and his wife’s clinical residencies. Most appalling moment in the story was, when Kalanithi and his wife, Lucy, decide to have a child despite (or maybe even because of) Kalanithi’s health condition. Kalanithi was there for the delivery, but he was so weak and chilled from chemotherapy that he wasn’t able to put his newborn daughter against his skin. Eight months later, Kalanithi died a few hundred yards away from where his daughter entered the world.
I don’t know how anyone could read Lucy’s epilogue, in particular, without watering up. This particular excerpt from the book was very moving “I visit his grave often, taking a small bottle of Madeira, the wine of our honeymoon destination,” she writes. “Each time, I pour some out on the grass for Paul … and rub the grass as if it were Paul’s hair. Cady visits his grave before her nap, lying on a blanket … grabbing at the flowers we’ve laid down.”
But don’t be put off by the sadness of it all. I should emphasize the other things that drew me to this book. I am certain I will read When Breath Becomes Air again. This short book has so many layers of meaning and so many interesting juxtapositions—life and death, patient and doctor, son and father, work and family, faith and reason—I know I’ll pick up more insights the second time around.
I just wish the journey hadn’t been cut so short.