during the last night of the wake, friends and family gathered to share stories of the recently deceased. it was eulogy time.
a colleague talked about her achievements in school. of her drive to perfection. of her love for her cerebral husband and children.
another talked about her successful professional and clinical career. she spread her influence far and wide, even overshadowing her mentor, the wind beneath her wings. when it was announced during a mass that she had passed on, many in church gasped, ‘but that’s my doctor!’
when it was time for the children to speak, they apparently did not know much about her life outside the home. it was the first time they were hearing all these good things being said about their mother. of course, they knew her as a good mom. and they miss her. but they were so surprised that there were so many details in her life that they missed.
the husband spoke. it was awkward because the trials that their family went through for the past 10 months, struggling with a terminal illness, he did not realize how much doctors cared for each other. as a lawyer, he said, they spend all their time trying to kill each other. very unlike the doctors he encountered. with doctors, with end-of-life issues, no words were minced, only compassionate truth, and much care when there was no more cure.
i hate eulogies.
it’s like gossip, talking about someone when they’re not around, isn’t it?
my work in the clinic is overwhelming these days. so many are sick needing care. my hours are stretched full, caring for them, sometimes at the expense of family time. my wife has started to complain about my hours, insisting that i have no one else to blame for my low back pain but me and the burdens i carry.
when i’m gone and dead, please don’t talk about my professional life and achievements. i do not want to be remembered as one who did good endoscopy.
when it is time for you to hear my eulogy (it’s inevitable anyway), all i really want people to remember is that in everything i did, i labored with love, worked with care, cared with thoughtfulness, prayed through my actions, and positively impacted the lives of my children.
of course, that i wrote a lot too.