Reports of a death exaggerated

by Doug Muir on May 28, 2024

Here’s a metaphor. There’s an elderly person you’ve known for years.  Not a close relative, no, but someone whose career you’ve followed.  You feel tremendous respect for them, maybe some affection. They’re getting old and frail, but they’ve kept active.  Now and then you might see an article or something, and you’ll think, huh: still with us.

And then something terrible happens, and they’re incapacitated, helpless, unable to speak anything but gibberish. Death seems imminent.

So the family rolls the dice on high risk, experimental brain surgery. And to everyone’s surprise, it works! 

Mostly works. Your friend is still very frail, and they’ve definitely lost a step. The inevitable end has only been delayed.

But — they can speak, slowly but clearly. They can take care of themselves and carry out basic functions. They’re alive. You can talk to them.  They’re even still able to work!  At least, a little.  So you maybe haven’t seen the last article.  It’s an unexpected, surprise reprieve: you have them for a bit longer, another year or two or three.

That’s what it feels like.