Monday, May 07, 2007

RIP My Friend

The weekend started out pretty well. My lab tests, which I had been stewing over for weeks, came back okay. The Spokesman showed great ethical and moral courage in admitting they had not handled a major story in the best way possible. An NIC student, defending himself in a guest opinion piece in the CDA Press, came to the astute conclusion that there are usually three sides to a story - yours, mine and the correct version, which is usually somewhere in between. And that it was time to move on.

Then came this morning's e-mail. A long time friend and business associate of my husband's had passed away Friday. It was no ordinary passing. It was a "Death with Dignity" doctor assisted suicide in Oregon. Suicide. No matter how you look at it. I've never experienced anyone close departing in this manner. I'm having trouble getting my head around it.

Within days of taking early retirement several years ago, she was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She fought back from it more then once and each time we saw her she was cautiously optimistic. The last time we had an e-mail from her, however, she indicated she would call - it was too painful to peck at her keyboard. She didn't call. We knew there wouldn't be another heroic effort.

I've been thinking about this all morning. How do you plan your own death? How excruciating must be the pain, the anguish. To sit down with your husband, your loved ones, and say, "This is what I want to do..." I cannot begin to imagine.

To take that last dose knowing it was in fact the last. I'm not sure I could do it. But she did. All the philosophical and ethical questions rushed into my head. They won't go away. Somehow it seems so clinical, so pat yet there is obviously a time when enough is enough. I would guess it takes some pretty lucid thought even when in extreme pain.

All that is stirring in my mind now, however, is for naught. My friend is gone. She is no longer in pain. May her loved ones find peace.


Word Tosser said...

Sometimes life deals us stuff we don't understand. Just know your friend is at peace now...
The hardest part is She was ready, sadly you weren't. But we never are.

Anonymous said...

I feel for your pain and hope your friend rests peaceful. At least there is no pain for her anymore.

Big Piney Woods Cats said...

We can choose the time where our beloved pets need to go, but we have to suffer until the end. I am probably in the minority, but I think it is our life and when the pain and hurt gets unbearable, we should be able to choose. Just my thoughts.....


Bill McCrory said...

People too often wait until the death of a friend or family member is imminent before wondering about that person's wishes.

My mother, my wife, and I were fortunate that when my dad's death was still weeks away, his doctor gently but unequivocally suggested we begin saying the things we often put off saying until it is too late to say them.

When it came time for Dad to die, we knew exactly what his wishes were. The same doctor who counselled us earlier was there to tell us Dad was dying. He gave us the medical options, and we communicated Dad's wishes to him. Then Dad was allowed to die quickly, painlessly, and peacefully without what are often mischaracterized "heroic" measures.

We know some people would no doubt be shocked at how we allowed Dad to die. Not caused to die, allowed to die. We really don't care what those people think, because we knew what Dad wanted. We're thankful we had a doctor who encouraged us to talk with Dad while he was still able to clearly express his own wishes.

Dogwalkmusings said...

Bill, you and Toni expressed similar sentiments. We do as much for our pets, though I've struggled with whether or not I was playing "God" and had the right.

However, when push comes to shove I'd like the same opportunity my friend had. She discussed her medical options and knew there were no others. Her husband said it was not a difficult decision for her to make.

And now 90% of Portland will attend a good old fashined Irish wake to celebrate a life well lived. Not a bad way to go.