With little to distinguish one day from the next, time began to feel static. In English, we use the word time in different ways, “the time is 2:45” versus “I’m going through a tough time.” Time began to feel less like the ticking clock, and more like the state of being. Languor settled in. Focused in the OR, the position of the clock’s hands might seem arbitrary, but never meaningless. Now the time of day meant nothing, the day of the week scarcely more so.
Yet one thing cannot be robbed of her futurity: my daughter, Cady. I hope I’ll live long enough that she has some memory of me. Words have a longevity I do not. I had thought I could leave her a series of letters — but what would they really say? I don’t know what this girl will be like when she is 15; I don’t even know if she’ll take to the nickname we’ve given her. There is perhaps only one thing to say to this infant, who is all future, overlapping briefly with me, whose life, barring the improbable, is all but past.
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.
The above is an excerpt from When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
I read this book a while ago. I remember after finishing the book, I found myself unable to provide a review.
It’s a small book, but it packs a big punch. A gasping, desperate, powerful little book, bigger on the inside than outside.
There were no tears, I promise you, none whatsoever 😉 but I recall sitting there physically shaking and feeling numb and tingly at the end of it.
This was the first time a book had such a profound effect on me, and I’m not even sure why I decided to read it in the first place.
I guess God was probably trying to show me that I can’t control everything. I can choose my career, housing, and Netflix shows, but not death, cancer, a heart attack, or a car crash.
Paul Kalanithi was a chief resident in neurological surgery at Stanford University.
Stanford Medicine: 2015 Spring Issue Paul Kalanithi who had never smoked was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 died on March 9, 2015 at age 37.
Such is life.