Dear Doctor N,
I want you to know how much I have felt honored and privileged to be one of your patients over the last few years. You have always approached me as a human being and seem to have genuine interest in my life and my feelings. Your passion for the work you do is obvious and your compassion for your patients is astounding. No matter what happens to me, I will always feel lucky to have known you.
When I saw you in clinic last week, I was very moved by your emotion. I deeply appreciate your sadness that my life is drawing to a close. I also appreciate you being upfront and answering my questions honestly. Although six months does not seem like a lot of time, it is still good to know that I have that time left to spend with my family, say goodbye to those I love and tie up any loose ends.
While I find your compassion and concern marvelous, I wanted to share with you where we disagree. You apologized to me for not being able to find a cure for Chronic Rejection in time to save my life and all of the lives around us that are succumbing to it. There is no need for apologies or guilt. While you have dedicated your life to saving your patients, you have done an extraordinary job in an extraordinary specialty. It seems to me that you have also formed a belief along the way that death is a failure. I want you to know that, from where I stand, death is most certainly not a failure. There are many forms of healing and death is merely one of them. I hope that someday you will be able to let that feeling go.
You and your team have enabled me to live years past what I would have without your intervention. I feel lucky to have stayed on earth a little longer and do all the things I have done…while taking deep breaths! When it is time for me and I have gone, please do not feel sad that you couldn’t “fix” me. Please do not feel badly that you hadn’t done enough. Just know how much I appreciate all you have done and that I am perfectly at peace with leaving here and going home. (I like to think I am simply graduating early!)
Your sincere feelings are very appreciated. I only hope that the sadness you feel over losing many of your beloved patients does not discourage you from continuing the incredible work that you do. You are truly one in a billion.
With Great Respect and Love,