Sliding Down

By Michael Rabow, MD UCSF Magazine

Bodega Bay at sunset

Bodega Bay
April 6, 2021  

Every parent knows the question,
A suggestion, really,
Asked and offered with nothing but love –
No challenge to independence
Or skill or bravery.  

Do you want to
Slide down on your butt?

Just the hard part
Just the steepest part
With the eroded soil
And the rotted wooden planks.

Here was my beautiful wife
Asking me
A grown man
Her man
With whom she’ll stick,
No matter what,
Even after the MS progresses further
And I cannot even slide anymore.

Bristling a little with the question,
I wondered privately
How will I get down?
And do I really deserve
such a sweet woman
Caring if I do?


Michael Rabow, MD ’93, is the Helen Diller Family Professor of Palliative Care at UCSF. Sliding Down won first place in the 2021 Paul Kalanithi Writing Contest.

Cover of UCSF Magazine: top reads “UCSF Magazine, Summer 2023”. Text below reads “Inside the Distressed Teen Brain: Rethinking treatment for adolescent depression”. Illustration of a teenager with images of cell phones, social media like icons, pills, basketball, leaves, and flowers flowing out of their head.

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