Writers choose words and phrases with care. In all my years of writing, only once or twice have I repeated a sentence word-for-word in a single essay. So when surgeon Nuland did so in How We Die, I took notice.
Chapter V begins with what is known about the dementia called Alzheimers Disease (AD). Then Nuland introduces us to Janet and Phil as they approach their 50th anniversary. Janet has been rationalizing her loving husband's increasingly poor memory and changed personality.
One incident, however, overwhelmed "her exhausted powers of justification," and she finally learned he had AD.
Janet describes the professional guidance and support as instrumental in coping with her husband's disease and caring for him, but "in the end,...'They're just words...It's what's in your heart that makes you able to do this.'"
Nuland then paints a picture of the crises and stresses that followed Phil's diagnosis, marking the inexorable decline. After describing the distress felt by their grown son when visiting his father, Nuland says that the son needed the same thing as his mother, namely, the certainty of the support that comes not from groups and not from books but from the sustained devotion of family and those few friends whose loyalty finds its origins in love.
Nuland than quotes Janet again: "'It's what's in your heart that makes you able to do this.'" Janet would "do for Phil what only she -- no nurse, no doctor, no social worker -- could do."
I hope you'll stop with me to examine and absorb this insight before proceding to my next post.