An intimate last goodbye

CNN Photos

When death approaches, Eugene Ellenberg says, we hope to have those tougher, deeper conversations that we were afraid to have when in good health.

Ellenberg and his siblings had many questions for their father, but they were left unanswered.

In July, Ellenberg found out that his father, also named Eugene, had lung and liver cancer that had already progressed to his bones. His mobility and his ability to communicate deteriorated very quickly, and he was gone seven days after the diagnosis.

The elder Eugene was a Vietnam War veteran who “lived with a lot on his mind,” his son said. He didn’t like to talk about his past, which included a failed marriage that estranged him from three sons.

“I could have asked and tested it, but I got to the point where I didn’t want to test it,” Ellenberg said. “He had the right to keep to himself.”

Ellenberg…

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