On your own terms

How would you like to die?

Peacefully? On your own terms? Is there dignity in early retirement, so to speak? Or does the dignity lie in the struggle, the fight to the very last gasp?

“Look at me.” I knew not to look. “How would you like to die?”

I doubled back without realizing. Sensing my surprise, my attending broke eye contact with the patient and returned my stare. Three seconds felt like an eternity.

“How,” there was a brief pause in his cadence, “would you,” another one, “like to die?”

He enunciated every syllable. There would be no doubt in his words, no question in his intent. He was soft, understanding, and at once cold, so cold, and calculated, and firm. Continue reading “On your own terms”