books · Thoughts

When breath becomes air: Epilogue

When you come to one of the many moments in life where you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger a what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s last 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 it an enormous thing.

I have just finished this book last evening. I’d repeat again, what a book! This little book is actually so big and moving. The above quote is by Kalanithi as a message to his daughter who’d be almost a year old when he was breathing his last air. He couldn’t think of anything to tell her as life guidance or philosophy as he’d be dead soon and who knows what she would be like when she is 15 and what her ideologies are then. So he passes her this message.

Paul (Kalanithi) and his wife decide to have a daughter via IVF when they realise that  he will be gone soon and both of them wanted to preserve a part of him. They name her Elizabeth Acadia.

I love it that Kalanithi has enriched this memoir with his life experience plus a lot of quotes from famous English Literature writers and poets of all times.

Mixing memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

~ TS Eliot

This quote is a part of Epilogue that is written by Kalanithi’s wife Lucy.

She describes his last moments beautifully in this section of the book. I will not delve into the intricacies of how his body was deteriorating as it is far too heartbreaking. His child who is barely one year old, wouldn’t even know that this was a farewell to his father.

I am really thankful that I came across this book. Such books definitely help in showing a different view point and compels one to think – Do we have a lot of time?

Not getting all emotional… I would shortly say – Go, have a read. You won’t be wasting your time.

You can find out more about Dr Paul Kalanithi and his book here .


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