Thursday, December 21, 2017

In Remembrance of Brian Donovan

To my friend Brian Donovan,

It was a lazy afternoon in the village several years. After a long silence, you told us the diagnosis you just received: Huntington's Disease. You were direct, unsentimental, and precise about your prognosis: incurable, degenerative, hereditary. Given the circumstances, we talked about the idea of suicide with the same direct and clear analysis. You decided that there was nothing wrong with suicide, but that you were were going to live with things and see what happened. The idea of finding grace in a prolonged struggle with a degenerative disease seemed at odds with me. Dying with dignity was supposed to be quick, clean, dry, and bookended with a poignant deathbed thoughts. I always thought the end was supposed to be a "Keep Calm And Carry On" British sign, as we bravely marched into the storm. You showed that our mortality could be dealt with in a fully-formed way, filled with doubt, jokes, analysis, plans, and moving forward day by day. You taught me a lesson in humble grace. Rest in Peace. Your spirit lights the way for all of us.

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