A few friends have passed away. I’ve been thinking about two of them.
Cancer killed each, but they took different routes before dying. Both were married men, but lived in different states. One was five years older than me, and the other was almost thirty years older, when they died.
In Case A, the man was given the diagnosis and his chances. Living in Oregon, he took advantage of our right-to-death laws and protocols. He talked it over with friends and family, explaining why he was killing himself. Most were understanding. A few wanted him to hang on and fight it. They were learning more every day, and miracles happen.
With Case B, he was fighting against his chances of dying. He talked it over with friends and family, and refused to accept his imminent destiny. As his wife downsized to save money, he spent money on the latest medical technology, procedures and medicines. He refused to rid himself of anything, from his obscure sports and gun collection, to his motorcycle and cars. He was no longer allowed to drive or ride, and was too weak to stand on his own, requiring assistance for everything, but he was not giving up, and surrendering anything would be tantamount to waving a white flag.
I admired Case A’s approach. After talking it over, he made arrangements, confirmed his will and estate were up to date, and downsized to make it easier on his wife and family after he was gone. After choosing his date, he gathered his friends to himself, and administered the morphine that would kill him.
Case B went down without doing anything. He finally suddenly died, after trying everything possible. By then, his wife had sold their home, and moved them into a smaller place that she was renting. There wasn’t space for all of his goods, so she rented two storage units, for four hundred dollars a month. She was emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted by the time of his death.
I don’t know which I would be, Case A, or B. I don’t know how hard I would want to live, and what measures I’d invoke to stay alive.
I know many people whose lives are endured in rooms. They watch television, unable to do much else, while people attend them. They pay thousands of dollars per month to stay alive, pouring their life savings into the effort. I don’t envy them.
I don’t think I will be like them. I don’t understand the need to hang onto life, and I’m not afraid of dying. I don’t know if they’re afraid of dying, but they’re certainly hanging on. But I ask myself, is something missing from me that I am willing to let myself die, quote, so easily?
In case you’re interested, and if it makes a difference, Case A was the older one. Maybe that’s the answer; Case A had lived into his mid-eighties before cancer struck him. Perhaps he was willing to accept that his time had come because he’d lived a long and fruitful life, while Case B, in his mid-sixties, felt it unfair. Perhaps, it’s deeper in their nature, down in the same veins of love and hate, beyond logic’s reach. Perhaps, it’s deeper in our genes, and we will not know until the moment arrives. For all I know, Case A was always ready to fight to stay alive, while Case B was always ready to die. Maybe it’s all buried in their education and their life experiences and the brew that we become.