The physician-writer: a profession in itself. I was drawn to the writings of physicians before I was called to the field of medicine. John Keats (though he never practiced medicine), William Carlos Williams, Oliver Sacks, Atul Gawande, to name a few of the greats.
I stumbled upon this article last year and was taken in by both the story and the telling of it. And, of course, the questions Dr. Paul Kalanithi pondered in the piece forced me to take pause longer than I found comfortable. I was sad to learn that he died earlier this week, on March 9th, after living nearly two years with stage-4 non-small-cell lung cancer. He was 37 years old.
In “Before I Go,” he writes to his infant daughter:
That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.