Shortly before his death my Father asked me to end his life. It was a surprise. This was a man with a Christian faith. He’d never mentioned suicide or euthanasia before. But he knew the end was going to be hard. He was finding it difficult to eat without coughing and the doctors glibly talked about feeding tubes and thickened drinks that would suppress the worn out valve designed to stop food and drink entering his lungs.
As calmly as I could I told them that a feeding tube would be cruel and it was not to be fitted. My Dad just wanted a cup of tea, but I was told that was impossible. No more tea for him. Ever.
He died a few days later. He just slipped away in the arms of two nurses during a routine bed-bath. We had agreed a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order was in place. No CPR. No panic. Just a calm end to a noble life.
Today I read the headline “Paralympic gold medallist Marieke Vervoort ends her life in Belgium” and it all comes flooding back.
I’d never heard of medallist Marieke Vervoort before but it seems she lived unbroken pain from an incurable, degenerative spinal disease and epileptic seizures. She had signed papers allowing a Doctor to end her life when she said so. That happened last night. She was 40.
As a person of some-time faith, I was (and still am) angry with a God that allows so much suffering in this world. His/her mysterious ways baffle me. Why is taking your own life such a sin?
I don’t want to endure what my parents endured. My mother slowly “died” of dementia for 9 years before she finally breathed her last breath. I want to say when enough is enough. I’m not frightened of dying.
It doesn’t mean I’m ready to go yet. I have plenty more gigs to see, beers to drink, dances to dance and meals to eat. I’m not sick, apart from the odd bout of melancholia every now and again. It’s still worth getting up in the morning and trying to help others.
But when I want to go, I want to go. I don’t want it to be illegal that I take my own life, or have someone help me. I want the same rights in the UK as they have in Belgium.
Will I be judged by my some-time God when it’s over? Maybe he will come back to me and advise me when the time is close. Maybe we’ll meet on the other side when I can really see how vengeful or forgiving he is. Maybe I’ll just go to sleep and never wake up.
Time will tell.