Chapter 22 Summary
In “The Audiovisual, Part 3,” Morrie once again meets with Ted Koppel for Nightline. The chapter is noteworthy for how it differs from the previous “Audiovisual” entries. Of course, Morrie’s disease has significantly progressed since the first interview, conducted just six months earlier. Now Morrie can barely raise his arm, and he only changes his clothes every other day—he does not change his clothes for the interview because it is not held on the “other day.” When they first met, Koppel and Morrie were somewhat suspicious of each other, but now they are quite close. Koppel worries that Morrie will be unable to complete the interview and says that he would come to say “goodbye” no matter what. However, Morrie says he is willing to do the interview, though they will have to hold it in his office, a room so small that the cameraman struggles to keep Koppel in the camera’s range of vision.
Morrie and Koppel discuss Stephen Hawking, another sufferer of ALS who became famous for his work in physics and for his book A Brief History of Time. Hawking is also famous for the apparatuses by which he communicates; he relies on a computer to speak for him. Morrie, however, does not wish to live like this, arguing that his voice and his ability to respond to people are key to his identity. Morrie feels that when his ability to communicate naturally is gone, “Morrie is gone.” His latest aphorism is “don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”
Koppel once again asks Morrie about what Albom here refers to as the “ass wipe test.” Unfortunately, Morrie is not strong enough to be playful with this question. At this point, he can no longer sit up straight while using the washroom. In short, Morrie is aware that he is nearing the end of his illness and that he will soon pass on. After the interview ends, the camera keeps rolling and Morrie is heard to say that although ALS is taking his body, it cannot take his spirit. He says that he feels he is negotiating with God about the afterlife. Albom closes the chapter by noting that “it was the first time Morrie admitted talking to God.”
Morrie’s final piece of advice for his televised audience is to encourage people to act with compassion, and he also includes his favorite quote from Auden: “Love each other or die.”