“Would you like to know how much longer you have?”
It was an odd question, at least to me it sounded odd. How could wanting to know how much longer you had to live be something you would like? As though knowing would be an enjoyable experience in some way or simply put the doctor’s mind at ease upon the reveal of such information. I could see someone being unprepared for the end wanting to know, they would need to know such a deadline to put all their affairs in order before passing.
I had my affairs in order. I’m no young man who has never contemplated death before. I am prepared. I don’t need to know my expiration date.
But that got me thinking though. My poor Bethany. Yes she would be taken care of by our children and live more than comfortably with the money I was leaving behind, along with a stash she did not even know about in case I departed before she did. But could my stubbornness at this appointment, with this one odd question, cause her more pain than knowing I am terminal? Would she wake up beside me, terrified she was waking up to my empty shell, morning after morning because she would not know when?
I could tell the doctor was sitting awkwardly waiting for my answer, probably confusing my silence for being dumbfounded at my diagnosis and not the dilemma of my dear wife. Perhaps I should respond to his odd question with my own, “should I find out, only for the safe of my wife?”
It was an odd question, at least to me.it sounded odd. As a practitioner for at least a decade, a patent had never asked me such a thing when informed they were dying. Not to imply that my other former patents that have passed on since were selfish in only thinking about their own needs, but never once was one bold enough to voice concern about their spouse.
It was touching and even in my experience, whether in my practice or my studies, had I never come across such a question. The common response was, usually after much inner turmoil towards realizing that they were in fact dying, was ‘yes, I need to know. I need to get my affairs in order.’ Their next question being an obvious one, and normally one they would tell their loved ones, ‘will I be in much pain? How long will I be in pain for.’
What struck me most though with this patent, was his concern for his wife and her management of his pain and passing. Could it be that this gentleman had already accepted a terminal diagnosis long before actually receiving one? He would be a rare case indeed considering most of the patents prepared for death were melodramatic teenage angst-ridden teens who were, hopefully, just going through a phase.
This patent, this man, was in his last phase. “Honestly… ”
Silence owned the room.