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A Brief Eulogy for Michael Weiner’s Substantial Dignity


One imagines that the diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor is a particularly harrowing one for a 50-year-old person to receive — especially the sort of 50-year-old person who, by all appearances, derives fulfillment both from his private and professional life. Indeed, the only response of which I can personally conceive involves merely assuming the fetal position and cursing capital-F Fortune until such a time as my body stops functioning.

This doesn’t at all resemble late union head Michael Weiner’s particular strategy for dealing with his own diagnosis and subsequent illness. Indeed, it’s difficult to find news coverage of him in which he’s not expressly conceiving of life as a sort of luminous mystery.

Consider, for example, certain of his comments from July, reprinted in the Associated Press story regarding Weiner’s death on Thursday:

“I don’t know if I look at things differently. Maybe they just became more important to me and more conscious to me going forward,” he said. “As corny as this sounds, I get up in the morning and I feel I’m going to live each day as it comes. I don’t take any day for granted. I don’t take the next morning for granted. What I look for each day is beauty, meaning and joy, and if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, that’s a good day.”

There’s little else to add, of course. By virtue of time and circumstance, the world will forget about Michael Weiner, in very much the same way it’ll forget about those who’ve written or read this post. For those of us who remain present, however, grappling clumsily with the circumstances we’ve been handed, he’s provided an excellent model for a sort of practical and benevolent stoicism. If not a best case, that’s certainly a better case, scenario so far as the art of living is concerned.