The one last thing he experienced before he died


An excerpt from Five Moments: Short Works of Fiction.

“Dad … you can let go now.”

Thomas heard his daughter’s voice from a distance. It awakened him from his reverie. He relived those five moments of life and took their lessons seriously.

  1. Rejoice in the ordinary as if you were a child seeing everything for the first time.
  2. Unconditional love can lift you up.
  3. Forgive yourself over and over again.
  4. No matter how much we deny it, we are who we are.
  5. Some of the most difficult battles are those in which we choose not to fight.

Thomas opened his eyes and smiled. He looked at the faces of his family before him. After all these years he finally got it. He understood the meaning of existence that eluded him till now.

Eternity … immortality …

His family was now joined by numerous others. Thomas’s friends and colleagues, his patients and students, even the man he once gave a five-dollar bill to on the street. They were all there. He gave a part of himself to each of these people. And each of them had given a part of themselves to others. There were thousands, if not millions, of people in the room with Thomas.

His life had meaning. Like a rock falling into a pond, his goodness made a small splash with the people around him. But the waves from the rock rippled throughout the pond. Thomas would live forever. Parts of him were dispersed into the world. And those parts would live and thrive. Thomas’s body was dying but his soul was strong. He felt oneness with his fellow man.

For a moment Thomas thought if he just had enough strength he could share this beauty with his family. But then he realized this was not the sort of thing someone could teach. Each person had to experience it himself.

Isabella’s word’s came back to him as he drifted off. He remembered sitting on the kitchen floor with his daughter and granddaughter the day she almost choked to death.

“See, Dad? It wasn’t all in vain.”

Thomas experienced one last thing before he died. A cool sensation started at the back of his head and washed over his cheeks, shoulders, body, and into his toes. With pure joy, he recognized this as the first sensation he felt upon exiting the birth canal.

Beginning and end. Birth and death. They were all intermingled in this beautiful dance called life.

Thomas’s heart stopped.

Jordan Grumet is an internal medicine physician who blogs at In My Humble Opinion. Watch his talk at dotMED 2013, Caring 2.0: Social Media and the Rise Of The Empathic Physician. He is the author of Five Moments: Short Works of Fiction and I Am Your Doctor: and This Is My Humble Opinion.

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