Dear Aunt Sophie,
When I tell you what I do for a living please don’t wrinkle your nose and throw this letter away. I’m an attorney, but my profession is only a small part of my actual work. I am not your average ambulance chaser.
My practice consists largely of representing people who want to die, as opposed to most lawyers, whose clients all seem to want to live. But people with a strong death wish deserve the best, I always say.
Recently you may have heard about a young (they said she was young, but she was actually 41) woman who was “starved to death”. It was all over the news for weeks at top volume with many, many misstatements, half-truths, innuendos and outright fabrications. While I ostensibly represented her husband, I was actually representing her because he told me she wanted to die, and that is always right up my alley.
First, the idea that she was being “starved” to death was absurd. You can’t starve someone by withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration. It’s artificial! People weren’t meant to live on artificial food and water. If you’re already on the artificial stuff you might as well be dead. It they’d been withholding foie gras or even pizza it would have been a different story. Then it would have been correct to speak of “starvation”. (Actually, this whole idea is totally ridiculous because everybody knows super models starve themselves all the time and no one thinks anything of it.) So you see the whole “starvation” thing was a crock.
Then there was the “agony” she supposedly experienced during the Death Process. Well, there was no agony. I know because I was there. In fact, you couldn’t have torn me away from it, because it was the most beautiful Death I have ever experienced. Soft music was playing, the room was full of flowers and there was the sweetest stuffed kitten nestled in the crook of her elbow. It was lovely.
And then there are those unflattering things being said about my client, the woman’s husband. I want everyone to know he has spent the last fifteen years crying over his beloved wife. I have never seen anyone so devoted to a person who was, to all intents and purposes, dead for fifteen years. He was distraught every single day. Don’t fall for the suggestion that because he has a new lady friend and a couple of kids he didn’t cry every day. Sure, the lady friend and the kids are real, but I can guarantee that until his beloved wife died, they meant nothing to him.
People do not seem to understand that my client was absolutely right when he refused to allow his meddlesome in-laws to experience the Moment. That is a very private time and a husband has every right to watch his wife’s Death. I don’t know what makes anyone think other people should have been there. This Death was for her, not for her relatives.
Unfortunately, average people, who make up the bulk of the population, can not grasp these realities and I understand some people are beginning to view me and my client with a certain amount of - I guess you could say - wariness.
How can I get people to be a little more sympathetic toward me and my client? After all, we’ve been through a lot.
Defender of the Dignity of the Death Process.
I believe the noun you are groping for is “revulsion” not “wariness”, but far be it from me to put words in anyone’s mouth.
I don’t see why you should think people won’t understand. They gawk at accidents, so why should they not view the denial of sustenance (albeit not beluga caviar) to a pretty woman in the prime of her life as a spectator sport? Since we all know that almost everybody enjoys torturing small animals and abusing babies, it’s a given that anyone would part with his eye teeth for a front row seat at a slow, peaceful starvation.
How did your client ever settle on this as a means of facilitating his wife’s ecstatic passage into the beyond, anyway? I guess they must have had a discussion fifteen years ago that went something like this: “Hey baby, would you rather starve to death or be flayed, hanged, drawn and quartered ?” To which she must have said, “Gee, honey, I think I’ll take the starvation.” And she surely must have added, “Especially if I ever have a mysterious accident in my own home.”
The stuffed kitty was a stroke of genius. A real kitty might have started yowling at the wrong time and that might have made someone think she was suffering or, inconceivably, fighting to stay alive. I’ll bet the atmosphere in the room was really peaceful at the Moment. Stuffed kitties can be counted on to be quiet in those few magical seconds between the Moment and the high fives.
Please convey my condolences to your brokenhearted client. And advise his new squeeze to think long and hard before saying “I do.”
Good luck and God bless.