“Physician, heal thyself”
And so it came that Dr. Patel was diagnosed with a cancer. Not a simple clot of cells that could be easily cut away, thrown away and forgotten about. Not a clump that could be vanquished, that he could stand triumphantly over after defeating it, smiling and thinking to himself “that which does not kill me, makes me stronger.”
No. Our kind doctor had a horrid jumble of living tissue that sought to conquer every inch of the body which had borne them. An imposing guest, who was never invited and could not be convinced to leave until the house was burning down and the roof caving in.
The day he received the news, he sat quietly in his study.
Alone in his thoughts feeling rather pitiful and more than a little angry.
He had saved many from more benign afflictions. He had healed hundreds, maybe thousands, and now he was a victim of a fate which he had battled against on the frontlines for decades.
He was aware of the likelihood of survival, but more aware of the likelihood of his demise.
Radiation could not save him. Sedatives could only make him ignore the pain.
But the very thing that would consume him, would still remain.
Such a persistent little villain. Such a cruel act of fate.
The anger in him boiled as his bloody heart pulsed with hate.
He cursed the cleaning chemicals, the second hand smoke, the aspartame, the azathioprine, the pesticides, the herbicides and everything in-between.
He damned the carcinogens and their manufactures to the most sordid pits of hell.
Then he prayed a little while to something invisible that his body would get well.
He did not blame his own body for spawning this uncomfortable cyst though.
He claimed he knew the nature of the disease, and it was as so:
There was no doubt in his mind where his afflictions had come from.
Some nameless, evil outside force had infiltrated his perfect state of equilibrium.
No choice of his had been uncalculated or rash,
As a child, he remained level headed while the other kids were brash.
He did his studies, and daily cleaned his teeth,
played squash on the weekends and got adequate sleep.
He drank in moderation, laughed heartily at spirited jokes,
Donated to charity, instilled his patients with an unwavering sense hope.
Yet all of this seemed to mean nothing to him,
as he brooded and wept.
A sorry sack of flesh,
whose time was close to spent.
Now, if you find yourself in a room and you think you’re quite alone,
realize that your empty room is still part of your home.
And there is no point in having a home, if at some time you don’t leave.
For a home that becomes your everything, is only a prison cell indeed.
And so it came that the good Dr. Patel passed away.
His life had been full of suffering and happiness and all the other things that human beings strive to fill their moments with. He had grown and accomplished, he had failed and learned.
And by some chemical reaction in his brain, in the end, he was at peace.
In his very last moment he remembered something he had discovered as a child:
that all that he feared and hated were only fleeting memories in a fleeting mind of a creature that was only fleetingly alive.
So he breathed very slowly and wondered about gods and fate. Considered the universe from the perspective of a bee, whose only concern was to drink nectar and collect pollen. He felt drowsy as he put his imagination to its last use.
He felt solitude, but not loneliness. I think he might have mumbled some incomprehensible phrase about returning to his essence.
No tears for our friend Dr. Patel though. All in all, he was a simple man, his blood was red and leaked from his body if you cut him.
He is not unlike us in anyway, this physician was a wanderer and a poet.
A savior of life and a harbinger of destruction.
His friends did weep, the hospital paused a minute to remember;
And a patient who Dr. P had saved, became a proud parent this past December.
The nurses’ gowns still drag across the morgue floor,
as our kind physician Dr. Patel was silent forevermore.
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