Condolences To The Nearly Departed

When humor is the best medicine. (Auntie P/flickr)
When humor is the best medicine. (Auntie P/flickr)

When Mark Twain had been traveling abroad, he was rumored to have died. Upon his return to the U.S., he announced, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Inspired, I recently sent this email to friends, family and colleagues:

In May, a heart valve that I knew was faulty was replaced with a bovine model (yes, cow valve) in open heart surgery. I also had three arteries by-passed. For reasons unknown, several hours after my chest was closed (using medical super glue), my heart stopped, and I was technically dead for untold seconds. I saw no white light, and I had no out-of-body experiences or ancestors beckoning me. Perhaps I was headed for a different place?

I was given aggressive CPR, which cracked my sternum but jump-started my ticker. I’m recovering rapidly at home under the extraordinary and patient care of my wife, Nicole. Looking forward to my first cigar of summer.

If you pray for me, please be advised that God knows I'm an atheist.

I am grateful to everyone for their expressions of concern and support. Especially those who helped me laugh at death. From:

A business consultant: I figured you would have seen departed campaigns on the way out. Dukakis in the helmet. Kerry on a swift boat. Then Martha Coakley wouldn't shake your hand outside the gates.

A U.S. Senator: I suspect God knows considerably more about you, but still seems to think you have some purpose here.

My stock broker: Now that you are part cow, you must love this “bull market!”

A friend: Damn. I'd put quite a bit of time into the eulogy and felt that it was about where I wanted it. I really wish you had let me know a bit sooner.

Another consultant: On behalf of political consultants around the world, I thank you for disproving the theory that none of us has a heart!

My dentist: Didn't know you were dead. Glad you're alive. Damn, no report of broken teeth from intubation?

A friend: I want you to know, fella, that I, your fellow atheist, prayed for you.

A former heart patient: My regards to Nicole; my wife was suicidal for the first two weeks until she decided just to ignore me.

Friend: Disappointed that you could not report what it's like on the other side.

Lawyer: I'm saying an Our Father for you right now, whether you are an atheist or not!

Radio producer: I see that you've died since we last spoke. I hope that doesn't happen often.

Humor is important; anything else is scary.

"In the end, we are all terminal cases." — John Irving in "The World According to Garp."

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Dan Payne Democratic Political Analyst
Dan Payne is a Democratic political analyst for WBUR.



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