|Kerrie F, Me, Kerrie L|
My friend Kerrie F (left), died today. It’s sad, but also a relief. She suffered from the worst type of MS and was completely dependent upon others to wash, dress, wipe her nose, hold the phone, change the channel, clean her teeth. She had no dignity, no control over anything, and was completely miserable. She told me once she would like to kill herself, but she couldn’t hold a gun.
I was hugely impacted by the cruel hand life had dealt her. Since her mid 20s the disease progressed. She used a walking stick, then an electric wheelchair when she could no longer use her legs. Then she could no longer use her hands.
By her mid 30s she was in a nursing home with people in their 90s. When I visited her, her marriage had just broken down and she was grieving over the loss of her home, feeling as if she’d been discarded. I was shocked that her life was encased in one room with a bed, a breathing machine, a television and a visitors chair. There was no one else her own age in the nursing home.
Thankfully in the last few years a new type of home has been built called ‘YoungCare’ which provides high-level care for people just like Kerrie. Kerrie moved into a YoungCare home where she had her own space, her kids could come to visit and stay with her, and the staff helped with collecting them from the train station. So she could at least mix with others who were more her own age. This was fantastic for her. So today she passed away. She was 45. I feel very sad, but relieved for her.
My grandmother also passed away today – she was 100 years old. My grandmother’s death has also been expected for a while now and wasn’t a surprise. She passed away peacefully in her sleep. I heard my mother’s gentle voice shaking on the phone tonight as she talked to me.
How mortal we all are! If I had a choice, and I was in an awful state I think I’d like some drugs to knock myself off when the time comes. If preserving my life looks and feels more like prolonging my death, then I’d rather cut it short and stop any suffering – for me as well as for people who love me.
Rest peacefully Kerrie and Nanna.