Chapter 60 Summary
Jai and Me
In a family with cancer, the caregiver is generally forced into the background while the patient is allowed to focus on himself and receive the adulation and sympathy of others. Jai has a cancer patient and three little kids, and Pausch decides he will use a few moments of his last lecture to show everyone how much he appreciates his wife.
Near the end of his lecture, Pausch talks about how vital it is to focus on other people, not just himself. He looks offstage and asks someone in the wings to bring in the tangible example of his point. Jai’s birthday was the day before, so he has arranged for her friend to wheel a large birthday cake onto the stage. He explains to the audience that he thought it would be nice if he asked four hundred people to sing happy birthday to Jai. It is a beautiful moment, and Jai is visibly moved.
Though he and Jai have a lot of preparing to do, he considers himself fortunate to have the time to prepare. They talk about things that Jai will need to remember when he is gone. One of them is to take time to rejuvenate herself so she will be strong and healthy enough to help her children. Pausch also hopes Jai will give herself permission to fail, as she will inevitably do. Mistakes are just part of parenting.
Single parents often try to compensate for the missing parent, and he is hopeful Jai will not feel the pressure to do that. He is sorry he will not be there to live through the most difficult teenage years with her, but he reminds her that she has family and friends to whom she can turn for help. Jai must always be looking for the mentors who will help the children become better adults. And, if she chooses to remarry, if it makes her happy, he wants that for her.
They have worked hard for eight years, creating a partnership and a marriage based on love and communication. Though they have done remarkably well since his diagnosis, they have had some difficult times. They have made it through those times by focusing on the immediate task ahead of them.
Finding the perfect gift for a final birthday is difficult. Jai got him a watch and a big-screen TV. Though he does not watch much television now, the day will come when he will be trapped in bed and will need a link to the world outside of his bedroom. Jai will be and do what she must, and she will do it well.
After the crowd finished singing to his wife, Pausch did not know what he would say to her. She comes up on stage with him, and they embrace and kiss as the crow keeps applauding. She whispers in his ear: “Please don’t die.” The entire moment seems made for Hollywood, and Pausch just hugs her more tightly.