The Thirteenth Tuesday: We Talk about the Perfect Day
Morrie decides that he wants to be cremated and discusses his funeral plans with Charlotte and Al Axelrad, a rabbi from Brandeis and a long-time friend of Morrie's. Now, Morrie must breathe through an oxygen tube which has been inserted up his nose. Mitch hates the sight of the oxygen tube, as he views it as a symbol of complete helplessness and even has the urge to yank it from his nose. Morrie describes to him a violent coughing spell he had suffered the night before, and explains that he found serenity in those frightening moments when he was able to accept his own death. It was only then that he truly felt ready to die and transcend. He stresses that while we are alive, we must "make peace" with the reality of dying.
Morrie asks to see the hibiscus plant on the window ledge of his study. Mitch cups it in his hands and brings it close to his professor's face, which makes Morrie smile. Death, Morrie says after seeing the plant, is only natural. Morrie again mentions that a person can die without ever completely going away, as they are recalled by the living who lovingly remember them. The love one creates while alive, he says, remains long after death.
Brutally realistic, Morrie has never hoped that his illness could be cured. He tells Mitch that there is no possible way he could ever return to being the man he had been before contracting the disease, as he is now a completely different self. Mitch then asks what Morrie would do if he could have twenty-four hours of full health. Morrie replies, very simply, that he would do what he would have done on any average day, such as eat lunch with friends and go for an evening walk. Mitch is surprised at first, and then realizes that Morrie is trying to exemplify that there is perfection in the average day.
Later, Morrie broaches the sensitive topic of Mitch's younger brother, Peter. Mitch remembers him as a carefree child, and thinks how different he is now as an adult, frail from the chemotherapy treatments. Mitch has called his brother, though he has not been able to speak to him. Peter continually refuses Mitch's support, and reiterates that he does not want to talk about his cancer. Morrie assures Mitch that his loving relationship with his brother will be restored in time.
Morrie tells a story he had heard about a wave on the ocean. The wave had felt good until it had realized that, like all the other waves, it would soon crash to shore and be destroyed. Another wave tells him not to be afraid, for all of the small waves are a part of the larger ocean. The Fourteenth Tuesday: We Say Good-bye
Charlotte had called the day prior to Mitch's visit to let him know that Morrie had not been doing well, a sign that he had reached his final days. Morrie is asleep when he arrives on this last and fourteenth Tuesday, and he must wait to see him. For a moment, Mitch worries that he has forgotten to bring tapes for his tape recorder. He has brought food for him, as usual, though Morrie has not been able to eat such food for quite a while. He apologizes to Charlotte for bringing the food, and explains that it has become a tradition. Mitch reads the newspaper while he waits for Morrie to wake, and again reads of murder and hatred. As he enters Morrie's bedroom, he notices a 24-hour hospice nurse sitting in the hall and recalls Morrie's aphorism, "When you're in bed, you're dead."
Morrie is barely able to speak, though he manages to tell Mitch that he is his friend, a good soul, and that he loves him. Throughout their last conversation, Mitch holds Morrie's hand. Morrie cries, and Mitch comforts him by stroking his head. He tells Morrie that he will return next Tuesday, as he knows that Morrie is tired, and leaves without ever having turned on the tape recorder. He gives Morrie one last farewell kiss, and finally, he cries.
Morrie had died on Saturday morning, the fourth of November....
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