Say I was divorced, or living alone, or had no children. This disease—what I’m going through—would be so much harder. . . . Sure, people would come visit, friends, associates, but it’s not the same as having someone who will not leave. It’s not the same as having someone whom you know has an eye on you. . . . This is part of what a family is about, not just love, but letting others know there’s someone who is watching out for them. It’s what I missed so much when my mother died. . . . Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame.
What I’m doing now . . . is detaching myself from the experience. . . . And this is important—not just for someone like me, who is dying, but for someone like you, who is perfectly healthy. Learn to detach. . . . You know what the Buddhists say? Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent. . . . But detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you are able to leave it.
Morrie talked about his most fearful moments, when he felt his chest locked in heaving surges. . . . These were horrifying times, he said, and his first emotions were horror, fear, anxiety. But once he recognized the feel of those emotions . . . then he was able to say, “Okay. This is fear. Step away from it. Step away.” I thought about how often this was needed in everyday life. How we feel lonely, sometimes to the point of tears, but we don’t let those tears come because we are not supposed to cry.
I want to die serenely. Peacefully. Not like what just happened. And this is where detachment comes in. If I die in the middle of a coughing spell like I just had, I need to be able to detach from the horror, I need to say, ‘This is my moment.’ I don’t want to leave the world in a state of fright. I want to know what’s happening, accept it, get to a peaceful place, and let go. Do you understand?