Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I feel like I'm writing a lot about death these days. One of my classmates from medical school passed away two nights ago. He was a neurosurgeon and a pilot and a plane he was flying crashed into a Chicago suburb. It was a densely populated area but the plane nosedived into a vacant lot. Experts at the site feel this was a deliberate effort to avoid surrounding buildings.

I knew T only peripherally. We were assigned to different groups through our years in medical school and never had any rotations together. He was a day scholar, I lived in the hostel. And yet, whenever I think of him now, all I remember is laughter. He had a gift for making you feel welcome in his presence. I am a fairly reclusive person but he managed to draw me out. He was very enthusiastic and had a puckish air around him. He was one of the youngest in our class, starting medical school at 17, graduating from a neurosurgical residency at 32. And yet he was never arrogant about his gifts. T was always sensitive to others and touched the lives of many around him. He brought joy to others. For a friend's wedding, he gathered a group of classmates and drove them across the country so everyone could attend. I'm sure there were many other road trips, many crazy memories people now carry. For my own part, I remember when I got my first cellphone, one of those indestructible Nokia 3310s, it was T who taught me how to send text messages. I was quite captivated by this marvelous technology and, even while others snickered at my enthusiasm for what was by then commonplace, T caught my delight and returned it with vigor.

The last time I met T was at a friend's wedding in Toledo. He was still in residency back then but had taken a day off to attend, flying in from New Mexico. He looked tired, as most surgical residents do, but he had none of their caffeinated bitterness. Still festive, still brimming with enthusiasm, he talked and laughed and we shared a few good hours together. I don't think I would have given up a few extra hours of precious sleep to fly in for a raucous wedding. But T was thoughtful that way. Even now, in his final moments, his consideration for others shone through. He saved the lives of so many.  


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