This is an excerpt from the memoirs of a Mad Scientist. It was the inspiration behind the song “Terminal Illness” on my album Mad Scientist PHD. Click the image below to download from iTunes.
My career, although filled with many wonderful happenings, has also had its moments of sorrow. As I began my medical practice, it never occurred to me that if I found something terribly wrong with someone, I would be the one to have to tell them. I will never forget the first time I had to tell someone they were terminally ill.
It was autumn. Everything was dead, or dying. The season was made all the more bleak when I diagnosed a man to match the leaves falling from the trees. I shook my head, sitting at my desk, looking at the paper in the brown folder.
“How am I going to tell him?” I asked myself desperately.
To clear my head, I took a stroll in the park. The fallen leaves crunched under my feet. With each crunch I could hear the crushing of a man’s spirit. Then I looked all around me. I saw the beautiful reds, yellows and oranges of autumn backed by an azure blue sky. I breathed in the sweet smell of the leaves that lay around me. All these precious beautiful things I noticed because I stopped. In that moment, I found myself wishing I had stopped many times before.
I was suddenly thankful for this tragic task. I was racked with sorrow for the man, but basked in the joyous awakening to the small, constant, beautiful things that often go unappreciated. Interesting how the thought of death can inspire so much life, such a rebirth.
It was then I made a promise to myself. When the first snow of the season falls from the sky, I’d stop to feel it. When the first blossom breaks through the earth, I’d stop to smell it. I began to understand how this man would feel. Soon, he wouldn’t be taking simple things in life for granted. Soon, he would suck every last drop of life out of the time he was given. I knew what to tell him now.
“You may be dying, that’s true, but it’s the best thing to happen to you. You’ll begin to live your life!”
We think we have all the time in the world…