Interview and Death


"Everyday life seems unbelievably minuscule when faced with the prospects of death and dying." These are the words of Dr. David Avery. David is thirty years old, unmarried, a successful doctor, and has recently been confronted with the knowledge that he is suffering from a terminal form of acute leukemia. The living room in which Dr. Avery and I sit in his Monterey home is beautifully decorated with portraits of angels. On nearly every wall these images of ethereal beauty give one a sense of safety and calm. It is ironic that these ominous creatures should watch over this home which is covered in a cloud of impending death.
The only dimension that leads one to believe David is the man in the photographs surrounding us, are the piercing green eyes that now look through me. He is frail, gaunt, and as he sits huddled in a blanket, I see a shadow of the man I am now engaged to marry. A once strong, handsome, and athletic man, he now weighs close to 100 pounds, his appetite having fallen victim to rigorous treatments of chemotherapy.
David speaks slowly, at times obviously in great pain, a side effect from drugs which are a last ditch effort toward a miracle. He composes himself and explains, "No one can ever truly know what the feeling of death is like until they actually feel it for themselves."
Generally, words such as afraid, daunting, confusion, hopelessness, and sorrow spring to mind. However, David elaborates, "the knowledge that one is in the process of dying is surreal. Everyone knows they are going to die but no one ever believes it."
He tells me of the conscious realization that death is much a part of life as birth yet is totally unprepared for in our culture. If society was aware that death could consume us at any moment, we would do things much differently. We?re so consumed with materialism and status that we lose sight of the important things like family, love, and our belief in God. He explains that we have lost a sense of common courtesy, decency, and the key ingredient to a meaningful life, the development of relationships.
After having gained the conscious comprehension that his life is coming to an end, it seems that David has received an element of peace with the world and acceptance of the inevitable. He clarifies, "Petty concerns and worries have been replaced with an overwhelming need to help others see the light at the end of the tunnel." Such a metamorphosis has been so consuming that not one portion of his life has remained untouched. This deep sense of enlightenment, has pushed him to create and maintain strong bonds with the people he loves the most. These days his life is filled with family, friends, love, and true happiness. It is through his actions that he is teaching those around him that even in death one can become free from societies vices of pain and anguish.
It is apparent that even with his illness that there is no way David could return to his former self. He is changed forever in his wisdom and knowledge. It seems unfortunate that one would only gain such understanding of life when facing death. David has learned to sum it up with a phrase form the book Tuesdays with Morrie, "learn how to die, and you will learn how to live." It seems that it cannot be expressed in a better way. David has undoubtedly proven that within the context of realizing that one?s life will end soon, one gains the purest appreciation for life.
David closes our interview by summing up his experiences in one statement, "Just knowing for certain that no miracles will be blessed upon me has given me an overall acceptance of the way the world functions and my role it."
Given this truth it would be only natural for one to question life?s meaning, for it may seem be a useless adventure in self examination. Yet it is through the love of this dying doctor that I have learned that there are truly are no guarantees in life. All anyone may ever have is this exact moment and though David will inevitably die, he has done what he sought out to do, he has shown those