Oliver Sacks’s death was not unexpected. He announced its coming in the The New York Times on Feb. 19.
The neurologist and much-admired author died of cancer on Sunday, at the age of 82. He is being remembered in laudatory obituaries including those from the NYT, the Guardian, and Forbes, with a headline that would be a fitting epitaph, “Medicine Has Lost Its Muse.”
Sacks was known for his nonfiction works that reflected upon the workings of the brain, offering case histories of patients and explaining conditions such as Tourette’s and amnesia to a broad audience of fascinated readers.
His writing was always clear, empathetic, and accessible and he took pains to make it revolve around his patients rather than offering only details of their conditions.
He gave several TED talks, Awakenings was made into a film starring Robin Williams, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was adapted into an opera, which is still being produced in companies around the country.
In one of his last public writings, an opinion piece for the NYT he wrote
“And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”