Together but So Far Apart

Yesterday, I read an extraordinary piece about an older couple who died within minutes of each other as a result of a suicide pact they’d had for years.

The essay, The Big Sleep by Julia Medew, is beautiful and engrossing. The photos, tracing the couple’s long lives of accomplishment and happiness, were like pages out of a life anyone would envy. I envied them.

I envied their resolve to end their lives when the right time came.

So while he was browning a chicken for a Basque Chicken that he talked about making all day, I asked my husband if he would consider such a suicide pact with me. I explained that, like in the essay, we would agree when we were ready and the point would be to avoid being institutionalized and losing control over our lives.

The notion of knowing when one’s life has run its full course is very appealing to me, although I’m not sure I’d have the fortitude to end my life while I still had any capacity to live it. In other words, by the time I would be willing to quit, I might well be too incapacitated to have a hand in my own quitting.

Still, I wondered whether my life partner might be open to such an agreement. He hesitated. I asked him if he wanted to be bedridden, in a nursing home, with other people taking care of him.

He looked at me, pondering this idea, and then said this, “Would I be able to get the NFL Network?”

Stunned, I told him that I could be down the hall from him, in a different room, thinking that the idea that we wouldn’t be together would make him rethink his response.

“Maybe you could have a big TV in your room, too.”

I don’t think we’re on the same page about this.


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