The Future… Keep the Door Shut

I’ve been visiting an old friend regularly for about two months now. I met Kevin a little more than 50 years ago, in Los Angeles. He was one of my supervisors, on my pre-doctoral internship, as I tried to figure out how to be a clinical psychologist. Now, he’s in a skilled nursing unit, close to my home.

Six months ago he suffered a stroke and has been struggling with recovery ever since. I went to see him just after the New Year and was shocked to find him so fragile there in his bed. Through his garbled voice, I heard him say he would probably not be eating anymore. Swallowing could kill him so he’d be receiving nourishment through a tube. He also shared how unlikely it was that he’d ever walk again on his own steam.

Although he’d been gravely ill it was still a shocker – to see him so compromised, so far from the tall, sturdy person I’d known. I felt helpless, and a deep, blanketing sorrow came over me. There was nothing I could do, and apparently not much he could do. But he said he was relieved not to eat again, avoiding the danger of fatal choking. Incredible, and chilling, I thought, how our outlook changes, and narrows, with circumstance. A small door in my mind opened on what it would be like for me to be in Kevin’s place, but I shut it quickly, afraid to go there.

Anybody know someone like Kevin, or what I mean about shutting the door?

Dan F
Bennington, VT

Your thoughts about The Future… Keep the Door Shut

  1. Hey Dan,
    How could you possibly keep that door open? Whatever fierce lessons you might learn on the other side seem hardly worth the pain they’d cause. Plus you may not wind up like Kevin. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to ‘walk into our graves’ as a friend of mine wishes for himself. Kevin has your love and support – which is all you can give him. Step back from that door and be of good cheer.

    Marty Greene
    Boulder, CO

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