(For fourteen years, Peter has written an annual post for this blog. Close to the time he passed away, I suggested he write how he feels about dying, and I am publishing it without his permission. Here are his words.)
“I’m planning to end my life. I’ve entered hospice, and in a few days, I’ll stop eating and drinking.
I’m happy with much of my life. I have a wonderful wife, two accomplished sons and two lovable grandsons. Judy and I have been happily married for more than half a century. We live in a condo that overlooks the Charles River. We can walk to Harvard Yard where I sat in on classes (or more recently Zoomed in).
But my advancing Parkinson’s Disease and a stroke-impaired left leg are limiting my mobility. You have to have lost your mobility to appreciate what that means. When I gave up my driver’s license, I couldn’t go many places alone. Now I must call for help to use the bathroom.
I am not in pain, but being helpless hurts. I realize that dying may be uncomfortable, but it won't be as bad for me as it was for my mothers' parents who died in Auschwitz.
When I think about the trouble I am having at the tail end of my life, I worry that Judy may have trouble in her golden years without my help. That may be largely in my imagination. Not having my help may be an advantage.
I’m sorry I’ll be missing half of my children’s lives and most of my grandchildren’s lives.
I think I am making the right choice, but if I haven’t, I won’t have to live with it.”