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When breath becomes air

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Paul Kalanithi was a young, accomplished neuro surgeon in training with multiple degrees including one in Literature. Suddenly, lung cancer decides to ride shotgun with him. The promising and earnest doctor paints his life as it withers away. You cannot but put the book down a few times and empty your tear glands. Your heart goes out to him and his young family and also to his parents. (Dad, wife and brothers are all doctors. I just bawled at the mention of his mom moving closer to him after the illness and making Dosa with coconut chutney for him. )

If you have had family members go through terminal illnesses or are facing terminal illness or are facing end of life issues, it helps you to connect with their pain and suffering. As Paul goes into lengths about some of everyday decisions he has to make in his life as a neurosurgeon, you are left wondering whether some of the medical decisions that were made in your family emergenices were made with such clarity and conviction.Paul’s grace and integrity in the face of death spreads a pall of gloom but it is essential for all of us to digest it and add a dimension to our life.

As you read it, it is hard for you not to come in touch with your own mortality. I almost felt an immediate urge to chronicle my life – start writing a journal just to maybe share a piece of something with my daughter.The book puts you in the space of naked insecurity and the need to cherish your blessings.

Lucy, Paul’s wife has penned a very poignant epilogue. More power to her and their daughter Cady!

Not only a definite read but also a must own.


Written by Sudarshan Suresh

September 27, 2017 at 2:20 pm

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