Sunday, November 3, 2019

the last book I ever read (Taffy Brodesser-Akner's Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel, excerpt seven)

from Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel by Taffy Brodesser-Akner:

He was a good doctor; he was even great. That was the worst part of Bartuck. He had been such a good mentor to Toby that it had been impossible to foresee that he’d become the oily money guy that he had become. Or maybe what was hard was accepting that you could be both a good doctor and a money guy and still choose to be the money guy? Either way it was sad. When Toby was one of his fellows, Bartuck told him war stories and gave him whiskey in his office at the end of their hard days. Toby remembered when Martin Loo, a subdivision head in gastroenterology, died from pancreatic cancer in a fast, sad sequence of hospital poetry that reaffirmed to Toby that what he did was good and worthy. Toby and Bartuck sat in Martin Loo’s room for hours during his final weeks, and Toby listened to them talk about their good old days at the hospital, and stories from before medical records were digital and nobody knew anything. They laughed together until Dr. Loo was too exhausted and needed to rest.

Toby and Bartuck were in the room with Dr. Loo when he died. As his breaths began coming further and further apart, they’d stood up to leave with his wife and children. But Martin’s wife had stopped them and said she believed that Martin, three days unconscious by then, would have wanted them to stay. “You were as big a part of his life as we were.” When finally his last breath was drawn, his wife put her forehead to his and said, “Goodbye, my love,” and Toby had felt then that despite his early death, Martin Loo was a lucky man. So was Toby. Right then, he couldn’t help but think what a privilege all of this was: to know these people, to try with them.

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