No matter how we would like to deny it, we all will die. But, unless we have a heart attack or are killed instantaneously in an accident, some of us can choose how we die. We can spend our last days seeking treatment in the hope of gaining time, perhaps poor quality time, or we can choose how to die, while consciously living to the end.
David and I chose to die, and never looked back on the choice. We looked death in the face every day, every minute, for twenty-six months. Living with this choice was more difficult than either of us could have imagined, but it was our choice, our way. We found that we needed all of the human experience, all of the humanities – history, philosophy, theology, literature, psychology – to live out this choice. When people would comment on how unusual our way of dying was, we would look at each other, in some amazement, and say to each other, “I don’t see how else we could’ve done it.” And, looking back, I would not have missed it. The 26 month death vigil taught us who we were, who we still are.
The experience was “sacred.” The most intense time in my life, the only part of my life that is completely true. Nothing is bigger than choosing death deliberately, and consciously living to the end while waiting to die. I was at my best during this time, and I was most truly myself. This process was so huge and so ultimately beautiful that, after that, everything seems to be insignificant, and not worth pursuing. Three years later, I am unable to write about anything else. I keep trying to capture this ultimate human experience.