In Awe of Being Human: A Doctor's Stories from the Edge of Life and Death
by Betsy MacGregor, M.D.
Abiding Nowhere Press

"...I believe suffering can give people a greater capacity to love. And it's the loving we do that heals the suffering we've undergone."

Many medical students wish to become doctors out of a keen desire to save lives—or at least attempt to do so. When they begin their hospital rotations; however, any lingering naivete quickly vanishes the first time they must deliver bad news to family members. Such was the case for Dr. MacGregor, who witnessed first-hand the "soul-stretching" experiences of the deepest love and the darkest agony.

As the book opens, the reader follows MacGregor throughout various hospital rotations. She shares countless stories of families experiencing loss as they sit with their loved ones during their final days. One particularly touching story is that of Saul and Rebecca, who lost their brave little boy, Sammy. Saul and Rebecca became a de facto extended family of the staff in that hospital wing, returning months later to celebrate life by announcing their pregnancy. Likewise, Florine, a woman dying from ovarian cancer, deeply touched the author with her courageous, yet matter-of-fact spirit. At this point, MacGregor was discussing death and dying with patients for her research project, "Dying and the Inner Life." When asked about the matter, Florine insisted that not only was she not afraid of dying, but that it made her appreciate all the more what an incredible gift life is.

What famed psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' ground-breaking book, Death and Dying did to illuminate the stages of grief, MacGregor's book has done to celebrate the oft-overlooked precious gift that is life. As much as death is feared and vilified, it also serves to remind us that life is simply too short to waste time fretting over petty concerns. MacGregor's exquisite writing is a celebration of every minute of miraculous life as much as it is an expose on how patients and their families cope with the inevitable end.

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