I’m looking for a few willing women and men to review “A Private Agony.”
In “A Private Agony,” a novel, T. Cooper Meacham is summoned to his doctor’s office late one afternoon and handed a death sentence. He has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a fatal motor-neurone disorder affecting the voluntary muscles. He will gradually lose function throughout his body — arms, legs, throat, lungs, sphincters — until there is no function left to lose. The average life expectancy at diagnosis is two to five years. Over most of this time, Cooper can expect to be able to do little more than bear witness to a gradual transmuting of the gold of his promise into the lead of his fate. He is 40 years old, married, and the father of three sons.
What if you were the one called into the doctor’s office? How would you respond? If you were Cooper Meacham, you would attempt to run the Boston Marathon before it became too late to do so. To have even a ghost of a chance of actually crossing the finish line, however, you would need to gain muscle function between Present Day and Patriots Day at the same time you are involuntarily losing it. You would need to approach every moment of your life as if there were no tomorrow.
Why would anyone put himself through this? As we follow Cooper on the grueling 26-mile, 385-yard trek from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, toward the finish line in downtown Boston, we learn Cooper’s reasons, and find ourselves increasingly conflicted between wanting to cheer this grievously afflicted man on and wanting him to stop. If he does not stop, we come to realize, he will die. If he does stop, there will be no tomorrow.
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