In the past couple of months, I’ve received many phone calls and e-mails from readers wanting to know more about Jim Chastain.
How is he doing? Has he gotten worse? When are you going to run another chapter of his story?
The good news first: Jim is still alive, and as long as he lives, there is hope.
The bad news: There won’t be any more stories about him.
For those of you new to all this, Jim Chastain is a Norman attorney, writer and poet who has terminal cancer. He’s a fairly young guy — 45 — and he has a wife and two teenage children. The Oklahoman
launched a series of stories about Jim in January, hoping that his experiences would shed light on end-of-life concerns and encourage conversations about the big issues: life, death and all the good and bad stuff in between.
As journalism goes, this was fairly invasive. Photographer/videographer John Clanton and I followed Jim and his family, questioned them about things most folks would consider none of our business and recorded conversation after conversation. We traveled with the Chastains. We interrupted their family Christmas celebration.
And we told some good stories, some of the best of my career.
Living under that scrutiny is tough. Imagine telling one stranger your life story, only to have that stranger retell it to hundreds of thousands of people. "I don’t act like that,” you might think. "That’s not what I meant at all.” It’s weird to look into a mirror and see someone who looks like you but isn’t you — at least not the way you see yourself.
After the last chapter that I wrote, the Chastains decided they didn’t want to subject themselves to that scrutiny anymore.