Oliver Sacks

I just spent the weekend in New York, mainly to attend the memorial service for Oliver Sacks at the New York Academy of Medicine. There were hundreds of guests, with music, speeches, and film of Oliver. I have been to quite a few memorial services but this one was particularly memorable. He was so unusual, so beyond the norm, that it is impossible to convey his presence without actually interacting with him, or at least seeing him on film. The way he fondled a piece of metal, his gentle enunciation, his shy warmth, his simmering humor–no one quite like him. We had been good friends for many years, and his fundamental decency always impressed me–also the size of his appetite. My only reservation about the service was that some people couldn’t contain the urge to clap, though it was at least subdued. Afterwards the warmth and good feeling in the room were palpable.

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