Tuesdays with Morrie Circumstances
In the novel Tuesdays with Morrie, the author, Mitch Albom, relates the story of his former Sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz. Mitch tells this story of how he fell out of contact with Morrie, even though he promised he would stay in touch. He decides he must reconnect with Morrie after being surprised to see an interview on television one evening featuring his old professor. Morrie, Mitch learns, has become a victim of circumstances in that he is diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease. It forces Morrie to give up many of his most valued activities, and in spending time with Morrie in his last days, Mitch learns that he does not need to become a victim of the circumstances he faces in his own life.
Morrie was a Sociology professor at Brandeis University. He taught Mitch Albom, who was one of his favorite students. Mitch took every class he could take with Morrie, and he promised Morrie after he graduated that he would stay in touch, giving him a briefcase as a gift. Morrie does not hear from Mitch for sixteen years while Mitch abandons his dreams to be a musician and becomes a sports journalist. In the meantime, Morrie gets diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease and has to begin giving up his favorite past-times, like dancing.
There is no cure for Lou Gehrig's Disease, which is clinically known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a progressive debilitating neurological disease that causes weakness, muscle atrophy, and difficulty speaking and breathing, eventually leading to death. Morrie must endure his fate and learn to exist in his slowly deteriorating condition. It is in the middle of this process that Mitch returns to Morrie's life. Morrie describes to Mitch the progression of the disease and how he is concerned with the way he will be unable to perform basic functions, like using the bathroom or eating solid food. Over the course of the weekly visits Mitch pays to Morrie, he sees this process directly, and he shares in the thoughts and feelings Morrie experiences as he comes to accept his upcoming death.
Morrie has no control over his situation. Morrie did not cause his condition through any of his own actions since Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a disease passed down through genetics. He must simply deal with the consequences of his own life ending in its own time. Mitch is around to see the end of Morrie's time on earth and be a good friend in Morrie's last moments on earth. Morrie spends as much of his last time on earth trying to impart every message he can to Mitch so Mitch can write a book about their conversations and their friendship.
It becomes clear that Morrie does not just view Mitch as a student. Morrie treats Mitch as a father would treat a son, and he says as much as his health fails him. The time that Morrie spends with Mitch teaches Mitch to look at his own life in a way that he has never had to in the sixteen years that the two did not speak together. Morrie shows Mitch the value of the relationships he forms with other people and that no matter what, it is important to enjoy what life offers.
This emphasis on the appreciate of what life holds becomes very clear as Morrie's health continues to deteriorate. He tries to enjoy that now at the end of his life, he gets to experience the same things he experienced when he was a baby. He does not have any problem showing his feelings with Mitch, and together the two men are able to cry and talk and put aside the rest of the world. All the distractions Mitch has spent sixteen years paying attention to during his time as a writer suddenly mean very little in comparison to the relationship he has with Morrie. Morrie is a friend Mitch knows he will lose very soon, and he takes as much time as he can to value the moments he spends with Morrie every Tuesday.
It was not Morrie's decision to choose the way he had to die. With the time Morrie had left it became clear he was grateful to have Mitch return to his life to learn the last chapter of his story. It was the last piece of life Morrie was able to control, and it was just by chance Mitch saw Morrie on television and was reminded of the important role his professor played in his life. Morrie may not have been in control of his death or when it arrived, but the choices he made in life meant that the rest of the world was able to hear his story after he was gone.