Ch.123 “I’m Ready to be Gone.”
I’ve been feeling lonely this week. I look around our house and see nobody here but myself. I feel an emptiness deep inside me. But I didn’t know why I was feeling that way until last night, when Pat told me and my daughter Jenny that “I’m ready to be gone.” I realized I’ve been picking up that signal from Pat the last few days, at a preconscious level, without accepting it consciously.
It’s the middle of winter here in western Wisconsin and Pat has a history of seasonal affective disorder that might be contributing to her desire to leave this world. Additionally, all the pain she’s been in because of urinary burns and her auto-immune disorder is another contributor. Tonight, for example, Pat hurt as soon as soon as she was placed in her wheelchair. But those two factors are probably only adding to a deeper sense that life no longer has enough meaning for Pat to merit staying alive. She didn’t add much to her statement, but Jenny and I could see great sadness in Pat’s eyes. I believe at that moment Pat couldn’t see any reason to exist. Her life felt purposeless and joyless, filled with more pain than pleasure.
Jenny and I didn’t try to talk Pat out of her wish to die. Instead, we reminded her that she is on DNR (do not resuscitate) status and that we would carry out her wishes at the proper time. We told her how much we love her and how much we value her presence in our lives. We held back our tears.
This morning, I woke up around 7 a.m. and scanned the weather report. The prediction was for a major snowstorm to begin at 10 a.m. So, I did something unusual for me: I broke routine and rushed my collie Levi and myself into town. We joined Pat for her breakfast, talked for an hour, and then drove home (20 miles), just beating the start of the snowfall. Levi was delighted to help Pat eat breakfast; I was relieved to find Pat her normal self; and neither of us mentioned last night’s conversation. I felt connected rather than lonely, at least for that moment, and now that I am home, I feel sad but neither empty nor lonely.
I doubt Pat will quit thinking about dying. But I hope that in the future she will only occasionally want her life to end. I want Pat to have more good days than bad, and I want her regularly to feel glad to be alive.
Pat’s comments on “I’m ready to be gone.”:
Ron to Pat (several days later): “Are you still ready to die?”
Ron to Pat (another few days later): “Are you ready to die?”
Pat: “My choice.”