There’s a time to live, a time to die

Prop 106

This Tuesday, Colorado may join five other states (California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) if  “End of Life Options Act” passes at the ballot box.

“Proposition 106 was designed to permit terminally ill patients with under six months to live, as determined by two physicians, to self-administer aid-in-dying drugs to voluntarily die. To be eligible, the patient must be at least 18 years old, determined mentally capable by two physicians, and able to communicate an informed decision”  [Note: two physicians, *not* a mental health professional.]

And, from a raft of deceptive television ads, voters are being led to believe that terminally ill people are being forced to remain among the living; only to be tormented by evil doctors and caregivers. Poppycock!

To give some back story, this article has been re-written. I originally intended to detail the struggles of my husband, who at that time was End of Life (EOL) status. He passed away three days later.

Upon re-organizing my thoughts regarding this piece, I was reminded of a high school chum named Robbie.  For some reason, Robbie decided the best way to get attention and control his family was to attempt suicide. His attempts were always carefully planned, so that someone would discover him in plenty of time to save him. On one fateful day, he got in the family car in the closed garage, took a handful of pills and started the engine at 10 minutes till 5pm. Except, that was the day his mother had an emergency at work and didn’t make it home until 7pm.

My memories are filled with anguish of his friends and family, all surely wondering what more they could have done. Especially that of his mom— who’s pain was so great she ended her career.

Then, I recalled two of my husband’s doctors (among the many he had through the years). One was so disconsolate after the loss of his son that he committed suicide months after. The other, in severe pain from a back injury, also ended her own life after a nothing-burger of an argument with her husband.

And again, the grief of those they left behind overtake my memories— which should be filled with the wonderful things they did, and the special gifts that were their lives.

I was privileged to walk with my husband on his journey through his terminal illness. For the last three months, he was in constant pain. But his decision to “stay around until the end” allowed me, along with his family and friends, to demonstrate our love for him. To care for him. And to say our final goodbyes many more times than if he would have opted for a quick assisted death.

I cannot and will not presume to know what’s in the minds and hearts of the terminally ill. But, still suffering the death of my husband— my life partner, my rock— I’m grateful he allowed me two more months to care for him, laugh with him, to love him.

That would not have been the case if his last hospital doc could find just one accomplice.

While I’m heartened that Oregon passed the first assisted suicide measure over 20 years ago and has only been joined by four other states. I literally weep when I consider all the patients lacking a strong advocate. They’re the ones who are intimidated (or worse) into dying.

Should hubby have determined that the suffering was too great, that the battle was not worth it, there were always options like hospice or palliative care. But they would have been HIS options, not those of some smarmy jerk wearing scrubs and a stethoscope. And Prop 106, or any assisted suicide measure, should not have been one of them.

1 Comment
  1. Thank you, Judi, for sharing the unique beauty and exquisite pain of love “at the boundry-line” between this life and the next. I’ve had the honor of sharing this journey with 3 family members; “walking them to the door” as my Grandmother phrased it.

    The courage shown by your husband in being willing to complete the journey allowed both of you, I’m sure, to share in an intimacy more complete than is offered by any of life’s other phases.

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