Well: Death and Sandwiches

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The New York Times.

Photo Credit Stuart Bradford

How do you eat a sandwich after pronouncing a man dead?

I pondered the question during a noon conference as I replayed the morning’s events, biting into an Italian hoagie, half-listening to a lecture on disordered sodium balance.

It certainly wasn’t the first time I had done it. But somehow, this man’s death was different.

I met him my first day on service and knew he didn’t have long. There wasn’t an organ in his abdomen that wasn’t caked with cancer. When I entered his room that morning I felt like a specter, here to tell him his days were numbered, as I studied the photographs of happier times lining his windowsill.

There he was, younger than I, beer in hand, sitting under a tree outside his college dorm. Then again, kissing his wife on their wedding day. Then beaming at his son walking across the stage at graduation.

Suddenly, he vomited an angry green liquid into the basin next to his bed.

“I’ve had enough,” he told me.

It had been hard for his family to accept, but once they did, relatives and friends from across the country packed his…

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