When Breath Becomes Air

The title is what made me want to read this deeply moving memoir.Such a profound one, your breath is your life and you don’t realize until it becomes just air.I am not sure if I grasped it correctly, but that was what spontaneously came to my mind when reading the title there.I understand that it has been taken from here: “The book’s title is paraphrased from a verse in Caelica, a 17th-century poem by Baron Brooke Fulke Greville: You that seek what life is in death, Now find it air that once was breath ”

We all don’t understand the real value of our life until we have been through the tragedy of it.Our perspective suddenly changes.The sufferings and pain become too real to ignore.The author Dr.Paul seemed to have everything in his life, until one day when he found them to gone out just like that.The author ended up being a neurosurgeon to understand the ultimate philosophy of life.All the hard work he has done to make it this far, the many sleepless nights, the choices of subjects he chose to learn, his ultimate seeking of truth about life died a sad ending.

The book showcases the changes of Dr.Paul from a doctor to patient.The reader is taken through his choices of subjects to learn and why he ended up being a neurosurgeon.He discusses the flimsy knowledge of life we have and how he wanted to help more of people with the knowledge he possessed.The book provides a great insight into the lives of the saviors, their working hours, their procedures, the emotional trauma, their depressions.

It also outlines his personal struggles with his life partner, about Lucy both before and after his diagnosis.It also dis is own sufferings and the limited amount of time he had in this world and how he chose to spend the same.I wonder how much pain would he have endured to write down his thoughts.One of the most touching verses in the book is where he and his wife discuss the possibility of having a baby. Lucy wants him to decide: he wants her to.

‘Don’t you think saying goodbye to your child will make your death more painful?’ she asks.Wouldn’t it be great if it did?’ he replies, adding: ‘Lucy and I both felt that life wasn’t about avoiding suffering.’

Paul and Lucy together had “Cady” and he was able to spend a few months with her.It might have been difficult, but “Cady” is a lucky girl to have a great father and a great legacy.



Reading this book which has been posthumously published after Dr. Paul expired to stage IV lung cancer in March 2015. Through this book he makes us realize that If we had led a meaningful life and if we made the right choices, then our lives are wonderful even of we see a sudden end to it.this book has given me another reason to cherish my life and I keep adding newer memories every day.


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