Tuesdays With Morrie People React

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

I want to tell you about my life. I want to tell you before I can't tell you any more. I want someone to hear my story." (p. 63) It was one more indication of the terrible nature of Morrie's illness: the time would come when his brain would still work but he would not have any way to communicate with people.

Morrie had lots of things he wanted to talk with Albom about -- feeling sorry for oneself, the fear of aging, and one that has probably crossed many people's minds -- regrets. Albom insightfully puts this issue where it belongs: it's an issue of selfishness. What have I missed out on? What did I deserve that I didn't get? Where was I deprived? Interestingly, Morrie understands the issue in the same way, even though Albom didn't present it in selfish terms. He said that people are so busy acquiring things and experiences that they do not stop to think about what they really do and do not want. The discussion had impact and importance for Albom. He made a list of major life issues, realizing that there were no definitive answers to life's questions. Morrie faced the same questions, but instead of telling Mitch Albom what he had discovered are and are not important, he insisted that Mitch sort it out himself. Even as he was dying, Morrie was still the professor.

Morrie began to deteriorate in the one area still useful for him -- communication. Mitch watched him on a TV show and saw that he couldn't gesture with his hands the way he had in the past, and that he had trouble pronouncing some words. Morrie was now losing what had become most important to him. In this interview, Morrie also revealed how profoundly he understood loss: his mother had died seventy years ago, and he still wept at the thought of losing her. Morrie knew very well what those who loved him were going through.

Throughout the book, Mitch includes anecdotes from his own life, written in short sections and printed in italics. After Mitch talks about the death of Morrie's mother, Mitch tells how his brother and he were nearly hit by a car on a sled. At the last moment the car swerves, and they are safe. The juxtaposition of their possible brush with death and Morrie's inexorable march toward death, with no chance that the car will swerve for him, dramatizes the significant difference between how people think about death when it's an abstract possibility compared to facing death as an impending certainty.

At the end of the book, Morrie does reveal that he has a regret: a friend with whom he has had a schism tries to repair the friendship several times, but Morrie declines. The friend dies of cancer before Morrie can forgive him and re-establish what was once an important friendship. Once again, Morrie has refused to sugar-coat either his life or his death. To the very end, Morrie insists on living life within reality as much as he can, and that means not hiding from tough issues.

Mitch and Morrie had 14 Tuesdays together before they died. Mitch Albom does not give us word-for-word transcriptions, and he avoids boiling Mitch's words down to brilliant insight and touching vignettes. He lets the readers see Morrie more intimately than that -- having his bottom wiped for him when he no longer can, and weeping because he could not find a way to forgive a friend who slighted him at an important time in his life. In the process, Albom paints the end of life three-dimensionally and gives real meaning and insight into the process of dying.

Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie: an Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's…