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A Piece of My Mind
December 17, 2003

Passing Through

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2003;290(23):3043-3044. doi:10.1001/jama.290.23.3043

After the commotion had ended, after everyone else had left Mrs Dawson's hospital room, I returned.

I walked to the head of the bed and gazed at her face. It was smooth and relaxed, bearing no trace of pain or emotion. Her skin was blue as summer berries.

She was certainly dead.

A few minutes earlier she had been very much alive. Nearly 90, frail but graceful, intact of wit and wisdom, Mrs Dawson had endured 10 days of hospital life—unflattering gowns and fake eggs for breakfast and what she decried as the most uncomfortable beds in God's kingdom.