Dying Is Fine

My brother's wife's grandmother is dying. Those who know me are probably thinking, "but, Kyle, there have been a number of people in your life who have died over the years that you were much closer to, so why are you mentioning this woman in particular?" And you would be right to ask such a question. I'm mentioning her because she is choosing to die. Even more interesting, after making her choice, she's still alive.

I don't know the specifics of her heart condition, but I do know that only her various medicines were keeping that particular organ functioning. This is understandable, though, as she's in her 90's, and by that point these things happen. The constant wear of life -- the never ending things she has to do to stay alive -- have become too much for her, and she's decided that it's time to let go. She decided that she was just going to stop taking the pills that were keeping her heart beating, although she's still taking the pills that dull any pain and keep her alert (her Happy Pills, as my mom says).

She made this decision a while ago. And she's still around. Not only is she still around, but she's up and about and doing all the things that, until recently, she lacked the energy to do. She has a nurse that comes to visit her, and her nurse listened to her heart and said something along the lines of "I have no idea how it is you're still alive." Her heart just sounds that bad.

And yet there she is.

Now, I'm not going to suggest that the drugs she was taking to keep her alive were also making her miserable. I don't doubt that possibility, but I also have some faith in modern medicine, and if those pills were keeping her alive then they were necessary. And I also don't doubt that she's probably reached the tail end of her life. So why is she so energetic these days? Because I think she's at peace. I think she no longer fears tomorrow. Her decision to let herself die has allowed her to enjoy her last few days/weeks/months.

It's not all puppies and rainbows, though. She has children who, even as adults, have to wake up every day and expect that phone call. She has grandchildren who, again, even as adults, have to wake up every day and expect that phone call. And while there is a certain peace to her acceptance that she's at the end of the line, there's also sadness behind it.

My nephew, Nathan, is undergoing heart surgery in 9 days. Nathan has had a lot of surgeries, as has his twin brother, Connor. Their lives have not been easy and it has not been easy to go through all the waiting that comes along with knowing and loving them. My brother's wife's grandmother has specifically said that Nathan's surgery is exactly the type of thing that she no longer wants to have to deal with. In her mind, if she dies before then, everything is fine. She'll never have to live through that day, never have to sit around and wait, pray, hope, whatever that he'll be fine. That kind of stress is something she's had to deal with too many times in her life, and she doesn't want to go through it again.

It's interesting to me that that even though she's attempting to die on her own terms, she still has no real control over it. Given how long she's lasted so far without her pills, there's a real possibility that she'll still be around 9 days from now, that she'll be waiting by the phone like the rest of us, awaiting news about Nathan's surgery.

She's an interesting woman, my brother's wife's grandmother. If there's any justice in the world, she'll get exactly what she wanted when she leaves this world, and that we get nothing but good news nine days from now.

As for the title of this particular blog, I offer you this: