This week was the Professor’s final chapter. He seemed hardly aware of how speedily he was heading towards the end, after so many discussions and his repeated statements of how he was ready and eager to go. When the time came he glided as gracefully as a swan into oblivion.
Or so I thought. His close friend and I were in the room, and the caregiver was telling us how badly she thought he was doing. I looked over at my patient, leaning so far forward in the chair that I feared for his safety, and at the same moment he glanced up, sending a wink to the two of us who were rather astonished that he remained mentally present.
Still surprising me, in the midst of his dementia and dying, when words were too difficult- he could wink; still appreciating the ridiculousness of his situation. We tucked him into bed for the last time; he would not venture out again in the next twenty four hours before his death.
I made my last visit. I recalled him telling me this last spring, during one of our many philosophical discussions, that he would die soon, but not during the summer because it was too pleasant to sit outside and enjoy the days. He would die in the fall, he said. Does he know, I ask myself? Indeed, on this first official day of fall, as I leaned over him to say goodbye, I told him “Today is a good day to die”. Did I imagine a slight smile swiftly come and go? Within an hour, he had taken my advice and departed.
His friend emailed me and said he was finally at rest. I think he is very busy carrying on some great intellectual debates with Rousseau, and perhaps Voltaire.
I will miss you, my friend.
“If there is a state where the soul can find a resting-place secure enough to establish itself and concentrate its entire being there, with no need to remember the past or reach into the future, where time is nothing to it, where the present runs on indefinitely but this duration goes unnoticed, with no sign of the passing of time, and no other feeling of deprivation or enjoyment, pleasure or pain, desire or fear than the simple feeling of existence, a feeling that fills our soul entirely, as long as this state lasts, we can call ourselves happy, not with a poor, incomplete and relative happiness such as we find in the pleasures of life, but with a sufficient, complete and perfect happiness which leaves no emptiness to be filled in the soul.”