Being Mortal

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The trend for my reading this year seems to be this: heavy.

Recently, I checked out Being Mortal from the library. It’s been on my TBR for awhile, it was checked in, I was looking for something non-fiction and I’ve heard it compared to When Breath Becomes Air, which is one of my favs… so, it seemed like a no-brainer.

I didn’t expect light reading, but I didn’t know that this book would ROCK me.

First of all, it is NOT like When Breath Becomes Air. I mean, I guess it is in the sense that they’re both written by doctors and address death, but they’re totally different books. If you go in expecting WBBA, you’ll be disappointed.

Instead of being a firsthand account of someone dying, Being Mortal addresses death from a somewhat removed standpoint. It discusses how we handle and treat terminal or aging patients. It examines the pros and cons of assisted living and nursing homes. It gives personal accounts of dying patients, including the author’s own father. And, it does everything in a factual, logical way.

Being Mortal is a confrontation on mortality.

It says: here is your body. It will die. Here’s what you need to be ready for. Here’s how to give yourself the best possible life and the best possible death.

The thing that really broke me about this book is the timing…

My mom’s been sick for over a year now. At times, I have more hope than others that she’ll get better. Since her first doctor’s visit, I’ve wished and hoped and prayed that this is all temporary… some trial she’ll endure for a bit and then be released from. Even now, I **still** want that more than anything.

However, while reading this book, she was readmitted to the hospital for another biopsy, which, as per the trend, became more complicated and distressing than expected.

Before reading Being Mortal, I saw my mom’s health journey as a linear path to more and more medical treatments, medicine and interventions until… well, until she was healed. This surgery was just another important step towards normal.

It was a hard thing to accept, but this booked helped me see that my expectations might not be realistic.

I now feel more willing to have the hard conversations and face the realities as they come. Sure, I wish things were better. I wish something would “cure” her. But, now I see that the next medical step may not be the best choice. There will always be one more thing we can do, one more medication, one more test. But, what if that’s not what she wants? What if she decides to be done?

More than anything, I want my mom to be happy. I want her to be comfortable. I want her to feel at peace with her choices. I want her normal to be my normal. I want to respect her and honor her and do whatever I can to make her life easier.

And, when my day comes… because it will… I want the same thing – peace, comfort, love and security. I want to be with my family. I want to be in my home. I want to be surrounded by the people and things I love. I want to leave this world better than I found it and be remembered for the good that I did.

It feels morbid to discuss… morbid to even think about… but, literally – we’re all dying. All of us. And, how we die matters. I think this book helped me accept that more than any other experience in my life.

I’m grateful for reading just the right books at just the right times, even when they’re really, really heartbreakingly difficult.

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