Christopher Hitchens’ latest dispatch from the region he has called ‘Tumortown’ chronicles the loss of his voice to cancer. It’s a harrowing examination of how his very identity seems to be slipping away, too.

“When you fall ill, people send you CDs,” Hitchens writes. “Very often, in my experience, these are by Leonard Cohen.” He then quotes from Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will.” The song is a kind of submission. The singer is asking his love for a blessing, but in the meantime, he’ll remain silent. Hitchens warns against listening to it late at night.