The camera rolled, the third and final interview. Koppel asked if Morrie was more afraid now that death was near. Morrie said no; to tell the truth, he was less afraid. He said he was letting go of some of the outside world, not having the newspaper read to him as much, not paying as much attention to mail, instead listening more to music and watching the leaves change color through his window.
He told Koppel he wanted to die with serenity. He shared his latest aphorism: “Don’t go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.” Koppel nodded painfully. Only six months had passed between the first “Nightline” show and this one, but Morrie Schwartz was clearly a collapsed form. He had decayed before a national TV audience, a miniseries of death. But even as his body rotted, his character shone even more brightly.
It’s not just other people we need to forgive, Mitch. . . . We also need to forgive ourselves. . . . For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened. That doesn’t help you when you get to where I am. I always wished I had done more with my work; I wished I had written more books. I used to beat myself up over it. Now I see that never did any good. Make peace. You have to make peace with yourself and everyone around you.
“I don’t know why you came back to me. But I want to say this . . . ” He paused, and his voice choked. “If I could have had another son, I would have liked it to be you.” I dropped my eyes. . . For a moment, I felt afraid, as if accepting his words would somehow betray my own father. But when I looked up, I saw Morrie smiling through tears and I knew there was no betrayal in a moment like this. All I was afraid of was saying goodbye.