Throughout Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Albom has struggled to face his emotions, often dismissing them as too touchy-feely. In contrast, Morrie has often been very open about his emotions and has been encouraging Albom to put more effort into facing his emotional side. In “The Sixth Tuesday: We Talk About Emotions,” Morrie tries to teach Albom about emotional detachment and emotional penetration.
Like most chapters, “The Sixth Tuesday” opens as Albom arrives at Morrie’s house with his usual bag of food. Today, it is not one of Morrie’s nurses that answers the door but rather Morrie’s wife, Charlotte. In accordance with Morrie’s wishes, she has continued to work throughout Morrie’s illness, and Albom rarely sees her during his visits. She is still working, but it is clear to Albom that she is unnerved by her husband’s illness, particularly because Morrie seems to be getting so ill that it is a struggle for him to meet with Albom. However, she reassures Albom that he should stay because Morrie seems to derive a sense of purpose from their Tuesdays together. Morrie describes their meetings as his last project. Charlotte sadly informs Albom that no one has been able to eat the food that he has been bringing each week. Morrie has been too ill to eat solid food for some time. Albom admits that he was only trying to help, and Charlotte informs him that it is his presence that helps Morrie, not the food. This scene illustrates Albom’s struggle to deal with his emotions.
When he meets with Morrie this morning, he is distraught to find his mentor in such a weakened condition. He is also surprised to hear Morrie say that he has been working on detaching himself from his emotions. Albom suggests that this detachment sounds like what he does, particularly when he dismisses his emotions as touchy-feely. Morrie explains that people must first experience their emotions so thoroughly that they are penetrated by the emotions. Albom has been afraid of his emotions and has not allowed them to penetrate them. For Morrie, who is more in touch with his emotions, it is important to detach from his emotions because if he dies in a coughing fit he does not want to feel horror. Instead, he wants to feel at peace.
Albom asks his mentor about reincarnation. Morrie has decided that if he could come back as another creature, he would like to be a gazelle. At first, Albom is incredulous. However, looking at Morrie’s disease-ravaged legs—a loss of mobility that is slowly spreading to the rest of his body—Albom begins to see why a fast, free gazelle would appeal to his old professor.