Are You Afraid Of Dying?

May 31, 2011 by  
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I went to see a film, “Tree of Life”, on Saturday with a friend of mine.  The film, written and directed by Terrence Malick, deals with such existential questions as: Where is God? Where is the person I used to be? And where are the people that have departed?  Terrence Malick, in my opinion, doesn’t tell stories, but instead he opens the door to the possibility of a deeply intimate voyage.  His images, words and sounds are the conduit, but the experience is unique to each one of us.

On the way home, while talking about the film, my friend said: “I’m not afraid of dying.”  It was the second time that week I was hearing the same statement.  This time I thought I should ask what this friend meant.  He went on to explain that at some point in his life he had been a drug-addict and an alcoholic, and because of that he had developed some serious medical conditions that would end in death if he didn’t stop with the addiction.  Because he loved life more than drugs and alcohol, he went into a facility and now has been sober for twenty years.

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At The End, What Truly Matters Is Chocolate Ice-Cream

August 2, 2010 by  
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I have just read a post on the Huffington Post by Aaron E. Carroll, the Director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research, Indiana University School of Medicine.

In his post ( he describes when he was an intern at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and how end of life was handled.

In one of the situations he had been a part of the mother had been aware her baby was not going to make it so together with her husband and her six year old daughter they took the baby to the park to see the water, brought him to family members so everyone could hold him, showed him the sun and let him lay in the grass and let a dog lick his face.

Reading this, I became very emotional.  Instead of suffering for the baby’s short time, the family opted for living and in doing so they chose what really matters: chocolate ice-cream, sun, grass and relationships.


Learning To Let Go; Magee Lessons

June 12, 2010 by  
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Shai 002Magee was my first dog. He came with my wife. In fact, it is very possible that had he not jumped into my lap and knocked the glass of white wine out of my hand and spilled it on my beige sports jacket, my wife and I would never have gotten together.

I was not a unique child. I wanted a dog as a pet. My mother was desperately afraid of animals. I never knew why. To my knowledge she had never been attacked, and neither my brother nor I had ever an unpleasant moment with a pet. But who is to account for anxieties? They are often untraceable to real events. So, we never had a dog. We visited people who had dogs, but they had to be locked out in a yard or inside in a room or my mother wouldn’t come into the house. Every time we visited my Uncle and Aunt, Bill and Sally, I would go down to the den, close the door behind me, and play with their dog that was confined during our visit.

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The Cab Ride

May 12, 2010 by  
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I was just sent the below story and I wanted to share with you.  What I most like about it, is what the following phrase by the writer: “We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.  But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.”  Enjoy it.


I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I  walked to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was  covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers  the way I would want my mother treated’.  ‘Oh, you’re such a good boy’, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice’.  I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice.. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.  For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.  As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home,
with a driveway that passed under a portico.  Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ she asked, reaching into her purse.  ‘Nothing,’ I said’. You have to make a living,’ she answered.  ‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.  Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’  I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift?

What if I had refused to  take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?  On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.  But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.