Facing Mortality

A few weeks ago, a renowned physician in our community died unexpectedly.  I had never met him and didn’t know him personally, but we shared a few patients and had spoken on the phone occasionally to coordinate their care.

Last week I had an office visit with one of those mutual patients, and in discussing his general health and upcoming appointments, it became evident to me that he was unaware of his own doctor’s untimely death.  I thought he should know.  I asked, “Are you aware that Doctor has passed away?”  Obviously not.  First silence, then “What?  Are you sure?  He was healthy!”  After a long pause, he said he wished he had thanked that doctor for helping him while he was still alive.  Then he asked after my health and thanked me for my years of service.

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