Death, Bears, Broken Hearts and… You Keep Going!
By Frederic Marsanne
Published on January 25, 2017
Every once in a while, the market does something so stupid it takes your breath away.
Indecision and delays are the parents of failure.
Nothing is worth more than this day.
Only those who have patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.
Eighty percent of success is showing up.
I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.
(Cambridge, MA) — One day after actress Carrie Fisher’s death at age 60, her mother, actress and singer Debbie Reynolds, 84, passed unexpectedly. A loved one dying is a tragedy. But a major professional or marital upset, or financial collapse won’t help — yes, some people commit suicide when their stock portfolio gaps down. Damned bears, and odds are, the next one is just around the corner… Anyhow, you get the picture. Broken heart syndrome is when someone gets sudden, shocking news (most often tragic, but not necessarily), and there’s a massive release of stress hormones in the bloodstream that ultimately overwhelms the heart. The symptoms are acute chest pain, shortness of breath and extreme changes in blood pressure. The syndrome is most commonly experienced by women — 90% of cases – and by people with a history of neurologic or mental health difficulties.
I have lost my dad, Guy Marsanne, 81 recently. He was a general practitioner in the town of Aubergenville, just about 30 miles west of Paris, France. There has been an outpouring of condolences, support, love in the community. He had been the family doctor of many for as long as 50 years. Sophie Primas, Mayor and Senator of the Département des Yvelines, and a dearest friend of mine, was kind enough to honor him on her official Facebook page. I am immensely grateful to her; she of course already knows that. I loved my dad, as did my mom and three sisters, and he loved us. My siblings and I are watching how my mom does. But here is what I have humbly been telling her and my family so we don’t sink or, worse, get the potentially devastating broken heart syndrome, in five key points.
- Death is in all of us. We must accept it, be humble and make the best of it. Some leave prematurely, others don’t. No matter what, it’s written.
In the last moments, my dad, who died of lymphoma, had gurgling sounds originating from his chest as though marbles were spinning around inside. Like a thunder in his heart. He was too weak to cough up the secretions and ultimately died of respiratory distress. A painful death, I must add. I spent the last two weeks of his life at his bedside. Seeing this remarkable man who loved life and provided relief to so many degrade and suffer the way he did, at least as much intellectually and emotionally as physically, was a nightmare. But he was 81 and had lived a wonderful, fulfilling life. Bless him. In the end, there is nothing we could do to save him but alleviate his pain via the administration of morphine, and hope that one of these wonderful biotechs we investors fund will make a difference and kill the freaking disease. One day it will happen, which brings me to my second point.
- However devastating the loss, stay alive! The loved one you lost would want you to, with all his or her heart.
My father loved us. His last thoughts were for my mom, whom he cherished and wanted to protect to the very end. He was essentially paralyzed when he died. But a month earlier, he was at work… in a wheelchair to 1) help his patients fight their own disease and 2) how banal, make money. In the waiting room, fifty people greeted him and cheered him. His courage was beyond remarkable. The point is, he loved life, work, and believed in the human genius, as well as in the remarkable contributions of medicine, research, tech and biotech. Man’s ability to triumph over disease and stupidity. He would have wanted us, maybe still somewhere wants us, to stay alive, live a full life, all of us. That’s what love is all about. Neither my mom nor the four of us children must let go, for any reason. That’s the way my dad would have liked it. Because we’re fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children and, most importantly, like all of us in the world who lose a loved one, humans who can give, share, contribute, invent, make a difference. And a few of us humans, one day, somewhere, somehow, miraculously, will kick lymphoma in the face, or rather in the cell, however eternal it may be. Guess what my father would think about that… However devastating the loss, stay alive, busy and happy! The loved one you lost would want you to, with all his or her heart.
- Let’s be bold. We don’t know the destination of those who depart. Why worry then?
A Jew, my father did not believe in God, and hardly cared about Judaism. He thought death was the end, period. Remember how you felt before being born? That’s just about the way you’ll be feeling when you’re dead. And, isn’t it true that before day 1 of our lives, there was no pain, no suffering, no violence? Nothing, just nothing at all. No conscience, no awareness, zip. The eternal repos. In the end, if it’s the way we must go, think about how you won’t have to pay taxes anymore, or get root canals, or see wars or violence, or… die enduring the worst pain again. I’ll take it. The suffering before we die is really the enemy. Palliative medicine must excel. But then, who knows, maybe death is something else altogether. Paradise or hell or reincarnating into a cow or whatever. The point is, we don’t know the destination of those who depart. Why worry then? Maybe wonders Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher and Guy Marsanne, are having the most wonderful times of their… lives right now. Aren’t you jealous? Let’s be fearless and bold – enjoy life, every minute of it. Broken hearts, no longer.
- When I die, I will join Einstein, Mozart, Lincoln, Van Gogh, Coluche, Patrick Dewaere, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and my dad. No bad company.
It’s one thing to lose a parent at 81, another to lose a child. My wife’s mom was 40 when she died of breast cancer. How cruel! There is not a day that my wife misses her mother. It is still true half a century after her passing. The younger the person we lose, the harder it gets to make sense of his or her death. There is a gaping hole in the lives of those who stay. I cannot even start to imagine how cruel fate likely feels when someone loses a child. Their kid. Their baby. No doubt losing a 60-year-old daughter like Carrie Fisher must have been a terrible trial to her mom; dying at 60 is still way too young. And maybe Debbie was happier to let go, and her death might indeed have brought her no less than immense relief. I read somewhere that, according to Debbie’s son, she had a rather peaceful end. How peaceful I wonder. It surely could not be easy to see her own sweetheart vanish the day before. Yet that’s the point, she dear was not alone, and we won’t be either, to follow that fateful path. Millions have died before you. And millions more are getting there fast enough. When I pass away, I will join Einstein, Mozart, Lincoln, Van Gogh, Coluche, Patrick Dewaere, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and my dad. No bad company. Not much of a community, I intuit, but who knows? It is toughest for those who stay; does it have to be, though, if you remember that soon, soon enough, you’ll get there? Relax then, enjoy the short amount of time you have amongst the living. Unconditionally.
- In some ways, the later we are born in the history of human kind, the more progress we inherit, technological and otherwise, and the more knowledgeable we are. No matter what, the future is a wonderful promise. We’ve got to hang on for the ride.
The Neanderthal man never got to know cars, planes, cells, antibiotics, stocks, and so much more. What is it that man will create or discover that will change the world in say 200 years, 2,000 years, let’s be bold 20,000 years — that is, if we’re still around as a species? This question haunts me. How unfair in some ways that we humans alive today will never get to know about those extraordinary new ventures that are yet to come, say in 150 years. Maybe that’s the amount of time it will take to discover the one miracle drug against lymphoma that my dad would have desperately wanted. But then again, what a remarkable incentive for those at the moment of death to wish their loves ones left behind, a long, fruitful life, and for those alive to live life to its fullest; quite a responsibility they inherit to the world. Change it for the better, so that others like my dad won’t have to die of lymphoma anymore, and their loves ones won’t incur the risk of getting a broken heart… No matter what, the future is a wonderful promise. We’ve got to hang on for the ride. Life, first and foremost, and there is never enough of it. Broken heart syndrome, unwelcome indeed. Keep the memories precious, forever, and move on. So many wonders to come. When I die, I want my daughter to live even more fully for it. Ah, the power to live, the audacity.
Happy new year, and make sure you live life to its fullest, any increment of it. We are loved. We must be, and by all, even if some of us don’t see it, or dare.
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