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A Deathbed Story I Would Never Tell


Phanta
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A Deathbed Story I Would Never Tell

 

We all tell stories. That's how we share. That's how we remember. Storytelling is what humans do. It's part of our nature — but natures, I've noticed, differ. I am not a scientist. I don't have a mind for what they do, which is to stick, doggedly, to hard facts, keeping emotion out of the room. It's a discipline for them, a way of being, that makes them, well, scientists.

 

For example, I'm thinking about the great American physicist, Richard Feynman, sitting in New Mexico, at the bed of his dying wife. He'd been called, and told that she had only hours to live; he'd hitchhiked from Los Alamos, where he was working on the top secret atomic bomb project. It was 1945.

 

He walks to her bedside, kisses her; she is breathing shallow breaths. We are still at war and six weeks later, America will explode its first atomic bomb. He stands there, sits there, watches her, kisses her, and very quietly, the Hodgkin's disease that had attacked her young body takes her. She was in her 20s, he was 27. They'd been married only two years. The nurse records the time of death: 9:21 p.m. He is empty with loss. What few things she had, he packs up; he arranges for a cremation, walks back into her room and sees that the clock had strangely stopped ticking. The hands are frozen at 9:21, the very moment of her death.

 

 

Loved this piece. <3 Richard Feynman's brain.

 

Phanta

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Great piece, Phanta. I have long been a Feynman Fan.

 

Neat! Have you read any of his books? He is a recent find for me.

 

Phanta

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