Theory and Practice


A dear friend of ours lost his father to cancer the other day. I did not now the father well but I liked what I knew of him. The form of his cancer was, sadly, undoubtedly fatal, claiming its victims within a year in most cases. On the one hand, this is a shockingly short and harsh window of survival. On the other hand, it to gives everyone a chance to say farewell, to close the books in proper fashion.

I haven’t had many close family members die. And I’m at that stage in my life when most of my contemporaries are still alive and kicking. I really can’t imagine how my friend and his family are feeling as they cope with this loss and my heart goes out to them.

Last year, a former colleague passed after struggling a with a deadly cancer for almost three years. My own grandmother died after more than a year; the week I spent with her and my grandfather, spelling my mother and uncles in helping to care for her, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

I’m not good with death. The notion of dying scares me to near paralysis. And I’m never sure what to say when confronted with the imminent death of another. My paternal grandfather was a surgeon and oncologist and he stared into the truth of death every day. I do not know how he did that and I cannot imagine the reserves of strength he must have possessed to do that job.

To my friend and his family, I extend my condolences and best wishes. I know that this a sad time for them and I hope that they know that we are here for them. And I hope that they remember this: life goes on.