When the time comes I hope to god that it is painless and quick, and if not, I hope there will be people to hold me hand and tell me that it will be alright, and not to worry. I hate pain. I hated giving birth, which was the most awful and lengthy pain I have ever felt. And it was a very lonely place to be, especially in the darkness of the night. After injuring my knee, and not being able to go up stairs to sleep with my family, I spent many nights in fear of having painful flashbacks, or worrying about falling and landing in pain on the way to the loo in the middle of the night. I thought about how lonely it was to be in this state of anxiety and fear. I’ve had two medication related experiences of being pulled into a void, which I also found really disturbing. I hope death is not like that. I think being pulled into light will be much better than being pulled into dark nothingness.
Today I caught the last segment of Radiolab on NPR about a father and son taking care of the dying Grandfather. It is a beautiful story. Death is not something to be romanticized of course, but the fact that they cared for this man, and witnessed the process of death, and that the teenage son had friends who came over and helped out touched me. As much as I wouldn’t want to be seen in such a vulnerable condition, I think at that point you’ve submitted to the process and might not care so much. Going into the void, however, seems so terrifying, that it might be a great comfort to have company.
I witnessed the death of an older woman that I took care of. When I say death, I mean the whole process. I watched her let herself go, and become more and more incapacitated over the months. I washed her, helped her to the bathroom, cooked for her. She was alone, except for me. It didn’t bother me that she wanted to go, and I knew she was done from conversations we had had about her friends all slowly passing one by one, not being able to drive, etc. I don’t know if she would have wanted more people around or not. There were some family issues clearly, that kept her son and daughter away. However, she chose me to be there and really didn’t let herself go, until I had moved in with her. Prior to that she had hired me to cook for her once a week. She was a small town aristocrat, alienated by her children, I was very crazy, purple haired teenager. She was a total bitch, but we got on well.
My mother went in to a coma, and I was able to be there for her last days, as was her partner and one of her sisters. I know she did not want to be on life support, and we were asked to make a decision on whether to take her of life support or not. A horrible decision to have to make so I talked to her, held her hand, and told it was ok to go. And she did, later that night, on her own.