Mum’s in hospital. Dad’s in hospital. Both in the same hospital and admitted on the same night. He has pneumonia, we think, and they’re waiting for the results of the PSA test on his prostate cancer this morning. If he has a heart attack, he told the doctor, he does not want to be revived. My mother ten minutes after Dad was carted off in the ambulance went downstairs to water the garden, tripped over her own pants leg, and broke her hip. My brother was trying to tend to both of them while they were two beds apart on the emergency ward and when Mum was wheeled off for her Xray, and Dad was wheeled up to the ward, he asked as they passed the doors of the Xray department, can’t we just open the door a crack? And let them say hello to each other.
The door was opened. They got to see each other and wish each other good luck. Dad’s doctor was doubtful he would make it through the night. Describing my parents saying hello through the Xray department door my brother broke down and sobbed. He kept saying, We need to talk about this as a family, we’re not ready to say goodbye yet! I said, this is very hard what you are doing. I wish I could be there to support you, and them. I’ve been tormented since I heard by the thought of them both being in such pain, and under the same roof, but separated. I said, even though it hurts us, I think it’s Dad’s own decision. It is his life and no one can keep him here if he is suffering. I described my friend who died last month, of euthanasia, when her quality of life became unbearable. Yes, said my brother very slowly. I know it might be very hard for you to do I said, and it’s asking a lot. But if you were able to find it in yourself – when Dad is awake and alert – to provide him with a calm enough conversational space so that he can clearly, plainly express his own wishes for his fate: I think it would be a truly loving service you could offer him. My brother said, I think he’ll want to hang on, for Mum. May 28th will be their fiftieth wedding anniversary. We’d imagined that I was the only one who wouldn’t be there, for that.