In this bestselling 1997 memoir, the author Mitch Albom records his fourteen consecutive visits made to his former Brandeis professor Morris “Morrie” S. Schwartz (1916-95) who was dying of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, アミトロ). The fourteen topics include the world, feeling sorry for yourself, regrets, death, family, emotions, the fear of aging, money, how love goes on, marriage, culture, forgiveness, the perfect day, and the last of which is his depiction of saying good-bye to Morrie.
Before Albom started the regular visits to his former sociology professor, he had been moving forward on the path of successful career. He confesses that he was almost a workaholic because he believed that he could control his life and other things only when he had accomplishments (p. 17). It all began to change by those Tuesdays spent with dying Morrie.
The reader will be touched by the wisdom and insight of the old dying professor. To give you some examples, Morrie says, on the seventh Tuesday, “Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s growth” (p. 118). When he and the author talk about the perfect day on their thirteenth Tuesday, Morrie so rightly says, “Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own” (p. 178). On another note on love, he says, “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in” (p. 52).
I do not think Morrie was a Christian (or a believer) because, if he was, he would have definitely talked about the eternity that he was entering. So, he does not claim to know what will happen after his final breath. But his attitude toward the upcoming death is impressive. He sees himself as one on a great journey; he says, “I’m on the last great journey here–and people want me to tell them what to pack” (p. 33). He does not lose dignity even in the face of the incurable disease and imminent death.
Admirable Morrie’s attitude may be, however, I wonder if the author has succeeded in making his readers realize the sense of urgency that Morrie only indirectly describes: “‘Everyone knows they’re going to die,’ he said again, ‘but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently’” (p. 81). I do not know what Morrie was really trying to convey because I myself did not spend those Tuesdays with him; all we have is the author’s record of his final days. But, if what Morrie was trying to say was the surefire reality of death, I think that the book ends up preventing–albeit unintentionally–the reader from apprehending it by his pensive and melancholy sketch of death. The cruelty of death and our dire need for the Savior are thus kept under the shadow of Albom’s captivating writing.