A Eulogy for Yogesh (March 24, 2017)

March 26, 2017

Hello everyone,

A heartfelt thank you to the Chief Residents and Barbara Wanciak for planning and hosting Friday evening’s Memorial Service for Yogesh Khanal. It was a sacred evening, with alumni and friends converging from all over the country, sharing food, wine, music, conversation, and memories. The Khanals were deeply comforted by our residency family’s warm embrace. On Saturday morning, Yogesh’s Mom, Jayashree, wrote to thank us and to share her belief, as she has many times before, that Yale is “a temple of Love.”

For anyone who’d like to donate to the Yogesh Khanal, M.D. Global Health Resource Fund, I’ve attached a pledge form. If you’d like additional information, please contact Erin Shreve (Erin.Shreve@yale.edu), Director of Development for the Department of Internal Medicine.

For the incoming interns- Yogesh Khanal was a Yale Resident and Chief Resident who passed away in June 2016, at the end of his chief year. We will always remember Yogesh as a brilliant, kind, funny, creative colleague and friend, with an unquenchable curiosity and a phenomenal commitment to social justice. What follows is the text of a eulogy given at the start of the program.

Have a restful Sunday, everyone.

Mark


Eulogy for Yogesh Khanal

March 24, 2017

Good evening everyone. Thank you for joining us to celebrate the life of Yogesh Khanal. It is a testament to his magnetic life force that so many of you have converged on New Haven this evening, several from afar, to honor a son, a brother, and a friend.

Nearly a year has passed since a “sonic boom” shattered Yogesh’s life and rattled ours. Yogesh navigated a devastating illness courageously, buoyed by waves of love and admiration, offered up by family and colleagues. He left us at the dawn of summer, the season of beauty, warmth, and possibility, which Mary Oliver captures brilliantly in her poem “The Summer Day:”

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean--

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down --

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

Oliver’s poem personifies Yogesh’s cherubic soul, his sense of wonder, his ability to pay attention, his capacity to transform reflection into prayer. It is tempting to imagine all that Yogesh would have accomplished had he lived longer, but my goal tonight is to reflect upon the gifts he shared with us in his too brief but wild and precious life.

In Yogesh’s residency application, his dean’s letter described him as “the embodiment of…an exceptional physician: great intelligence, social judgment, empathy, a gentle sense of humor, and a willingness to collaborate with others.” The description was perfect. Yogesh’s knowledge and skill were second to none, but his contributions extended well beyond that.

Yogesh wrote brilliantly. As an intern, he published a lucid op-ed in the Washington Post, praising the VA Primary Care system. In doing so, he corrected a major national misconception and proclaimed our residency’s commitment to service.

Yogesh devoted himself to social justice. He understood how bad luck, prejudice, and discrimination led to suffering, and he knew it was his mission to bear witness, to bring change, and to heal whenever and wherever he could. With exceptional organizational and leadership skills, he helped us create a residency Distinction Program in Global Health and Equity, which I’m sure we’ll hear about more later this evening.

Yogesh radiated humility. In one of the most memorable Grand Rounds any of us has ever attended, he bravely and publically confronted his own struggle with unconscious bias and, in doing so, challenged us all to examine our own.

As a Chief, Yogesh exuded kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness. He possessed an astounding ability to see the good in people that others failed to see. He exemplified the ideal Yale resident, which, as Dr. Fred Kantor has described, is "as good as any and nicer than most." Yogesh never lived to witness what we pray will be a passing period of darkness in our country- an age of cynicism, xenophobia, ignorance, and selfishness. Were Yogesh still here, he would be a beacon, beckoning us back to a world of idealism, courage, generosity, openness, kindness, and respect for truth and knowledge. In spirit tonight, Yogesh is doing just that.

We lost our Yogesh too soon; but his memory continues to inspire us, and in that sense he lives on as we remember his brilliance, his compassion, his commitment, and his kindness. To his parents, Jayashree and Mandar, and to the rest of the Khanal family, we cannot thank you enough for sharing your son with us. May the admiration and love expressed tonight sustain you in the years ahead and offer you some degree of comfort in your loss. In infinite ways, Yogesh’s luminous traits reflect your own. May his memory be a blessing to you, always.

Thank you, everyone, for being here.

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on March 26, 2017