This early passage in the book summarizes it all-
‘A young nurse, one I hadn’t met, poked her head in.“The doctor will be in soon.”And with that, the future I had imagined, the one just about to be realized, the culmination of decades of striving, evaporated.’
This is a book about death, about true love, about the people that stand with you when disaster strikes, about having to let go of the identity you held on for years, about having to choose what really matters to you and not being sure of what that is. It is a book about cancers and brain tumours and about sadness. This book is about a true story. Everything in between.
See, the thing with sadness as an emotion, is that, you dont have to chase it. Like happiness and pleasure, i guess. When you sadness knocks on your door, it sticks with you. Stays with you. Unlike happiness, so elusive, that we have to keep on chasing it, sadly( pun unintended). Sadness has no limits, you can’t get too sad. When you get in deep, you do. This book will get you really sad.
PAUL KALANITHI,the author, was a neurosurgeon. He died in 2015 at only 36 years of age, right at the peak of his career. Just when he was about to start living the fruits of his hardwork and dedication to the field. Just when his dream job offers had started streaming in. Just we had reached the mountain top- in his words. Just when he was about to start living the life he had always wanted, become that husband he had always promised to be, the father he had always wanted to be. Just when his journey from medical student to professor of neurosurgery was almost complete, a ten year journey, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. That coupled with new tumours that started showing up in his brain, he was given a prognosis of only several months. Sad, right?
In his career Paul saw many people die, one incident that stood out for me. Was that of an alcoholic whose blood had lost it’s ability to clot and was bleeding to death under his joints and skin. He looked up to paul and said “It’s not fair— I’ve been diluting my drinks with water.” Again,sad, right?
But its not all gloom in here. A big part of the book, for me atleast, is the love story between Paul and his wife Lucy. From holding hands during lectures in medical school right to holding hands in his death bed twelve years later. She walked with him the whole journey. She accepted to carry his baby, in full knowledge that he was at the sunset of his life and won’t be there to be a father to his child. IVF was involved, Paul was that weak at that point. SAD. The love story is amazing though.
Paul didn’t even live to finish the manuscript of this book. Lucy did it for him – again sad on one part, amazing on the other.
Paul had such a strong character by the way.
You should really read it, and dilute your drinks with water-:)