I have been reading Yalom's new book, 'Creatures of a Day', and I only have one chapter left, which I am savouring and saving for a moment in which I know I will fully enjoy it. The book has been such a wonderful gathering of his patient stories that I know I won't wait for long and will finish this chapter probably today. I know it is a good book when it is effortless to read yet impactful in so many ways.
My favourite chapter so far is one where he discusses a patient of his who was dying; one whom he has written an entire book about, so I imagine a precis of this in just one chapter was a challenge to write. But of course he did this beautifully. He writes about his patient's lack of connection with him, but then he realises that all along his patient was hugely capable of such deep connection that he was the one who was missing out; he was the one who was protecting himself. It was not her.
His patient wrote to him:
'I'm alive now and that's what matters.
Life is temporary - always, for everyone.
My work is to live until I die.
My work is to make peace with my body and to love it,
whole and entire, so that, from that stable core, I can reach
out with strength and generosity.'