So instead, I decided to discuss a related issue that has bothered me for years -- how I handled the many conversations I had with my wife in the months she spent at Georgetown University Hospital before her death from cancer in 1978.
I'd usually bike to the hospital from my office. On the 15-minute ride, I'd mentally assemble discussion topics for us -- the same news-weather-and-sports subjects typically bandied about at boring Washington cocktail parties.
My chosen topics were exactly what my wife had NOT been thinking about in her hospital bed. We did talk about our kids, her mother, our history -- subjects I'm sure she brought up. But her thoughts about dying? Never. I was surprised when she asked for my suggestions about her memorial service.
We both would have benefited -- drawn closer -- if I had just shut up and encouraged her to talk.