By Mitch Albom
When diagnosed with a terminal illness, Morrie Schwartz, a former sociology professor, decides to continue learning and teaching despite his declining health. After leaving the classroom, he meets individually or in small groups with friends, family, and loved ones in such a way that allows him to continue to share his experience and knowledge to benefit others. As his ALS progresses and Morrie slowly loses control over his body, he sees his gradual degeneration as an opportunity to fully embrace death and therefore fully experience life. Ever the teacher, Morrie shares his revelations with those in his life. He discusses everything from money and cultural conditioning to love and forgiveness, conveying his lessons with gentle compassion and light-hearted humor. Neither does Morrie shy away from the reality of death, and in the face of dwindling days he struggles to accept an ever-increasing number of limitations and greater dependence on those around him to take care of basic tasks. His ability to inhabit and even embrace both the joy of spending time with the people important to him and also the grief and depression of looming death offers a beautiful lesson about the wholeness of human existence.
“Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom is a poignant and tender account of Morrie’s gift to life through death. Albom writes frankly about his personal relationship with Morrie and how his own life has been transformed by the lessons of his beloved professor, inviting the reader to engage deeply with Morrie’s aphorisms and ideas. He also writes with compassionate honesty about Morrie’s condition and slowly declining health, coaxing readers into uncomfortable awareness about the fragility of human life and transience of good health. Albom’s descriptions capture Morrie’s spirit, conveying a his fortitude, sense of humor, and emotional conflict even as Morrie loses the ability to express them. Throughout the lessons, Albom gives a broader background on the personal impact Morrie has had on him by sharing stories about the professor’s childhood and memories of his own time as a student learning from Morrie in academia. As Morrie so thoughtfully dedicates himself to the people he is presently with, Albom does the same in his retelling of Morrie’s final weeks. His attention to detail, considerate reflections, and self-disclosure all create a respectful and loving tribute to the professor.
This is truly a phenomenal book. I am amazed as how well Albom captures Morrie’s struggles without sensationalizing his difficulties, while also maintaining Morrie’s sense of love and engagement with the world around him. He integrates both of these contrasting experiences so that one is not present to the detriment of the other. Death and dying are nuanced and deeply personal topics, and Albom shares Morrie’s experience in a way that grasps this complexity while also inviting the reader to bear witness to the highs and lows of grief and joy. Not to mention it is a short book and quick read, though I encourage you to slow down and digest it fully!