Paul Kalanithi, a 37 year old neurosurgeon, died earlier this month of lung cancer. During the two years he lived with his diagnosis, he did a lot of thinking and some writing, he designed a course with a colleague drawing on his experiences both as a doctor and as a patient, and he and his wife had a daughter. Here is his obituary, from the Stanford Medicine news center.
The thing that struck me most, though, was this paragraph he wrote for his infant daughter:
“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.”
No motivational speech, no life advice at all; just a blessing: “you are my beloved child, in you I am well pleased.”