Friday, April 04, 2008

On death and dying and euthanasia

It was a very long time ago that I decided I didn't want to be one of those people who lives a horrifically long life. I don't really understand people who want to live until they are so old and decrepit that they have regressed to an infant-like state of being. Truly, youth is wasted on the youth, and if we started old and grew progressively younger, knowing what age has taught us, perhaps we could live richer lives, but that's just not how it is.

A very old woman came into the restaurant yesterday. She looked very familiar to me; one of those people who isn't quite regular enough for me to know their name, but enough that I know she's local and has been here before. The cook came out to greet her while she was eating, only to discover her husband had passed recently. So here she is, dining alone, using a cane to walk, and expressing the sadness of her husband's death. Not the life I want to leave.

Another older couple who are regulars at the restaurant lost one half of their partnership a couple of weeks ago. I can remember they used to come in holding hands, struggling a bit to get around, until they were both using walkers to even get from the car to the door, twenty feet away. It's been sad to see their health go, but they were clearly still very smitten with each other and now I wonder how long the wife will last without her husband. Also not the life I want to leave.

Yet another instance of death surrounding the restaurant, a woman who had been battling cancer for many years finally succumbed to the disease. I would say she was in her mid-to-late fifties and was spry until the very end. She went quickly, which I suppose is fortunate, but her devastated husband remains with the rest of his life to live. Maybe the way she went is one way to go... Knowing you probably don't have long to be here, and living the way you want until you can't function any longer, slipping into a painless coma and moving on.

Maybe I don't know enough about life or death to be talking about it in this way, but I do know I never want to be in a position where someone else has to feed me and wipe my ass and I have to use a motorized scooter to get around. Now senile and functional is totally cool with me. If I can make it to the bathroom easily and think I'm on a throne of solid gold and am talking to myself about the conversation I had yesterday with Franklin Roosevelt, that is fine. It's the thought of me in an old people's home, drooling on myself while I watch Jeopardy! with my ass exposed that freaks me out.

So when is a good time to go? Why can't we choose? I know some people presently who'd be perfectly happy to go now because their health and wits are not entirely about them, which begs another question, why can't we make a decision when we're lucid to end our lives when they become less-than-beneficial to ourselves and our families? I am writing this right now... if I am ever in a vegetative state, pull the plug. Seriously. I should probably talk to a lawyer about this, but I mean it. None of the false hope that medical miracles will bring back a dead brain, ok?

Speaking of medicine, is it really extending productive lives when people cling to whatever sub par lives they have with whatever synthetic concoction the pharmaceutical gods decide to hand them? Or is it merely meddling with evolution and the survival of the fittest? We all know I loathe prescription drugs, and this is just one of the reasons. It comes from the same part of my brain that disapproves of in vitro fertilization and the crazy hormone treatments people go through in order to have children. If you can't make babies the regular way, there's a reason, one way or another. It doesn't matter. There are plenty of kids out there who are already born and need someone to take care of them. Angelina Jolie and Madonna have taught us that. Sorry... tangent.

A belligerent part of me feels somewhat entitled to talk freely about these things because I lost my brother. I count him lucky, and not in a sick, masochistic, feeling-sorry-for-myself-and-want-to-die kind of way. All I mean is that life is hard, no matter what way you look at it. I definitely touched on this in "Reproductive Prowess". This is not to say that wonderful things will not and do not happen to everyone, and a lot of it has to do with your own perspective on life and state of mind, but it is the struggle of mankind to just survive, and this is quite obviously not the same lot it was when we first started walking upright. Even if you have all the money in the world and it seems like you shouldn't have anything to worry about and be depressed about, and no Saber-Toothed Tigers are trying to eat you, you'll probably find something to be pissed and/or sad about. Mo' money, mo' problems, right, Biggie Smalls? Biggie Smalls... Biggie Smalls... Biggie Smalls...

I guess I don't really know what the point of this blog was. Just some random thoughts in support of euthanasia, generated by a contemplative sadness in being confronted with death and just getting old. Biggie Smalls.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Just wanted to say that I think you're right on this.