Morrie Schwartz, a professor at Brandeis University, loved to dance. However, one day, Morrie struggles to dance. Many people considered his inability to do the activities he loves as "old age"; however, Morrie, who has also been in-tune with his body, knew something was wrong. This prompted Morrie to seek input from a doctor, and in 1994, he was diagnosed with ALS. What shocked Morrie the most from this experience was the normalcy of the day - he had just been given a terminal diagnosis, yet no one cared or knew. Morrie was determined to not let the disease and diagnosis define him: he wanted to live out his days enjoying his life and begin surrounded by friends and family.
Mitch writes, "he was intent on proving that the word "dying" was not synonymous with "useless". Mitch continues, "in fact, the most unusual part of his life was about to unfold" (Albom 13).
A sequoia tree
sThe sequoia is a symbol for this novel. A woman at Morrie's "living funeral" read a poem about a sequoia. Like a sequoia, Morrie is strong and despite his age and diagnosis, he will continue to be strong and resilient in the face of adversity.
"My dear and loving cousin...Your ageless heart as you move through time, layer on layer, tender sequoia..."
The message readers should take away from this chapter is that death should not define a person. Morrie wants to live out his remaining days to the fullest: he wants to spend time with those he loves, and he does not want to focus on his inevitable death.