Sunday, September 27, 2009

Out, Out Brief Candle

My father's best friend killed himself last night. It was very unexpected, but somehow not very surprising. He had pretty progressive multiple sclerosis and... he was just in really bad shape. In his note he said that he had the right to decide when he died. My dad was probably the last person to see him - he went over last night to watch the football game with him.

The thing is, I completely understand why he did it. With a such a degenerative, incurable disease, there's not much else you can do. When you can no longer control your body, what else can you control? Given a choice of slowly and painfully wasting away to nothing or dying quickly on your own terms, what would you choose? At what point does suicide become the best cure?

This dilemma is one that I have given a good deal of thought. There's a good chance with my Wegener's Granulomatosis I could end up in a similar situation. It's not nearly as bad as MS - there are pretty effective ways to control it and I responded well to the treatments. It's also possible that I will never have a relapse and I will go on living a healthy, normal life. But what if I do have a relapse? What if next time it's much worse and I don't respond to treatment? If my lungs collapse and my kidneys shut down, if WG slowly eats away at my body... at some point quality of life is so low that it's easier on everyone to simply end things.

I'm not saying that I want to kill myself, not by a long shot. But if I've become a burden to those who love me (and I'm not saying my Dad's friend was, but... he was. They were glad to bear that burden, but still), if I can no longer do anything that I like to do, if I am slowly wasting away and the only thing I can still control about my life is how it ends....

I guess my point is that I can really understand why he did it. That actually scares me a little.

My mom is making paella for his widow (oh, wow, she's a Widow... somehow that's harder to wrap my mind around than anything else I've written today). Why does our society meet tragedy with food?

1 comment:

veganaron said...

I can see where you're coming from with understanding why your dad's friend chose to die the way he did. I hope he talked to his wife about it and that they made a dicission together.

I agree with you that we all have the right to chose to end our lives, but I think that we owe it to those around us to talk with them about it before we do it. They love us and are a part of our lives, the least they deserve is to understand why first hand rather then via a note afterwords.

Give my love to your dad.