Dear Sheila

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Dear Sheila

To my dearest wife Sheila,

This letter will come as quite a shock, I’m sure, but I guess at heart, my darling, I’m just a coward. I won’t go all noble on you now and say that I’m doing this for your sake. I won’t pretend that I don’t want you to see me suffer.

The truth, Sweetie, is that I just don’t have the guts to go through with this, even with you by my side. I know perfectly well whats to come. All the years of practising medicine have taught me a thing or two about death and dying. I don’t want some nurse that I’ve worked side by side with for thirty years have to wipe my arse, or to scream like a baby to a colleague and friend for just a few more drops of morphine. I don’t want to have them listen to me while I cry for my mother, hear my last death rattles and the last loosening of my bowels.

I’ve never told you much about my grandfather’s death. He had pancreatic cancer just like I do. In all the years since, throughout my career in medicine, I have never seen such a difficult death. No gentle passing into the night, had he. No last contemplative looks out the window into the long sweet sunset that he would soon be a part of. He was tortured beyond any words that I can say or picture that I can paint. I fear the same for myself.

And so I leave you in, what I believe to be, a somewhat gentle way. I’ve cleansed my soul before the Lord and also my body so you won’t have to deal with that. My suit is new and my shirt is fresh from the dry cleaners. I’ve tried to make everything as easy as possible for you. I have only a month or so left and please trust that I’m doing you a favour. If I can save you and the children from some of the sights that I’ve seen over the years then I have truly blessed you all.

I have seen the strongest and bravest of men and woman depart this earth with grace and dignity, a simple sigh and a knowing smile upon the faces. I have held the hands of children and their parents as they say goodbye with a bravery and pureness of spirit that would make the hardest of us believe in a higher being. I have wept, more than once, while men in my arms cry out for someone, anyone, to be with them as they breathe their last, their uncaring children ignorant of their suffering and possibly glorifying in it if they knew. Often times they had been abandoned too.

And then there were the tortured ones as I’ll call them, those fighting till the last for another hour, another day with their loved ones who wait outside the door, praying for them to go to their final rest, so that they may also rest. Some call out for their mothers and to God himself to save them before they fall into the final abyss.

And then theres me, my love. I want to be free of the cares and troubles of the day and all the days that have made up my life. I could never do enough, never cure enough, never save enough. Without you by my side, I could not have made it through this vale of tears. I know that I sound terribly morbid but I knew years ago that medicine was not the right choice for me. But too much invested, too much time gone by.

And now as I slip away and the daylight fades, so do all the troubles of my life that have vexed me so. My thoughts are of you as I lose myself in the sunset’s glow. I can’t help, also, but think of all the things I wish I had done, the wonderful times that we missed out on because I was always so busy. Most of all I will miss spending my days with you by my side. I fear your anger and sorrow at my decision. Please forgive me.

Yours for all of eternity, Jack

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