Apr 24th, 2015
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On the Death of a ColleagueOne morning, out of the blue, my close friend, colleague, and mentor has chest pain and collapses on his way to the hospital to begin rounds. A large team of doctors, our friends and colleagues, work desperately for many hours trying to save him, but it is not to be. He dies young.Many years ago, when I became his fellow, I was surprised that my prominent new boss had noticed me when I was a mere intern on hectic ward rounds. This ability to take note of all kinds of people may be his most impressive legacy, and during the days after his death, all kinds of people who knew him experience acute emotional trauma. Doctors hover on the ward, dumbfounded, pretending to be busy. Two witnesses to the event take hesitant steps toward one another then suddenly peel away in different directions, consternation written on their faces. Current and former fellows, residents, and students wander the corridors as if they've lost their bearings. Straining to do my job, I marvel that in a hospital that routinely and efficiently deals with life, death, and all the intervening drama, the passing of our colleague has shattered the established structure for coping with loss.The memorial service is standing room only. It's hard to believe that the man who usually held command on such stages is gone. Colleagues speak of him eloquently and magnanimously. Former patients pay homage to a man who saved their lives. As the eulogies flow, his family sits quietly, absorbing th

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