When to fold ’em

Google “let me die” and your first page of hits will include a photo of a person whose face has been spectacularly disfigured by some incurable disease. My gut reaction to the photo was and is “Yes. Lord. Let that person die.” It’s grindhouse bad.

Death with dignity, suicide, assisted suicide … let it be. I think it’s unconscionable that the healthcare industry gets to decide when we’re permitted to stop buying their products and services. What more basic component of self-determination is there than the right to determine one’s own time and means of death?


You may know, as I have, someone who’s decided to kill himself, slowly or quickly, formally or casually, for reasons that make sense to you or for reasons that make no sense to anybody but him.

My parents did the deed with cigarettes and alcohol. They took the long, long odds that their choices implied and put all their money down. When her heart finally stopped, my mother looked like she’d been dead for years. My father had preceded her by 10 years. She was 68 and the walls of her condominium were yellow with tar.


A man I’ve known for only five or six years is walking down a similar road today, not with cigarettes or alcohol, but with diet. Like my parents were, he’s well informed. He knows how long the odds are, but says he doesn’t care.


I grant him, without qualification, the right to do with his life what he will, but I feel myself receding from him already. I don’t want to watch, or hear. I don’t want to get sucked down by what he seems to be diving into. Emotionally, I mean.

My plan for my own death is that I’ll disappear unexpectedly and without a trace. And how very considerate of me that will be.