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Ansel O

Two years ago, I was a medical transcriptionist at a pulmonary clinic. As a young ally in healthcare, I have encountered narratives of people living with COPD, emphysema, and lung cancer, some of which have traveled with me since.

I will never forget this elderly giant of a man from the old country. Escorted by his family, his breathing was labored as if autumn leaves were rustling in the wind. And although his presence was formidable, it was clear that he was weakened from within.

"Prepare a clearance," the doctor said calmly, but in his eyes, I caught the glimpse of bad news. It was end stage lung cancer and unfortunately, the giant was still actively smoking. However, his wish was adamant. He was going to fly back to his home country to rest on native soil. There would be no debate.

I was preparing the document that would oblige his final request. I was writing the farewell for a person I had barely met and would never see again. For a brief pause, I hovered over the words as if they were my magnum opus, knowing that his letter held more weight and carried far more power than any poem or script I could muster myself.

It was summer outside but it was winter that lingered when he left the office for good.

Every now and then, I am reminded of him. Even in death, the giant's presence was great and now, a small piece of his story lives on with mine.

First published: September 9, 2016

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