20. Advance Directive

It was not a dream, more like a manifestation, people

in the room–not this one–were those I’ve wanted to be with me

at the end. Elena and I made the list today as part of the Advance

Medical Directive. It wasn’t a hard list to create. No ex-wives.

Do you want pain killers, sedatives, unconsciousness?

How do you feel about feeding tubes? Breathing machines?

Do you want to be resuscitated? Do you want hospice?

I’ve been reading this book about patients trapped

in a hospital in New Orleans during Katrina and how many

had DNR labels on their gowns and were left behind

to die or, some, to be euthanized. I want the option

of assisted suicide. I want to be conscious at the end

and feel and see what’s happening, where I’m going,

look from the lighted world straight into the dark.

There’s no place on the form for that.

Why are you crying? Do the needles hurt?

I was in the room with the people who had gathered

to accompany me into death–the loved ones on my list–

and I asked them to give me time alone with Caroline.

She lay down beside me, as we had planned. I held her.

And then understood I was leaving her and began to cry.

I need a kleenex. I thought I was ok with dying.

You’re not ready to die. You know how much we love you.

You don’t have to go now. You can take your time.

It is a beautiful vision, my love. I will be there beside you.

But think, what if this is a vision of another kind of passing,

a movement onto a higher plane of consciousness,

an image of how both of us are in transition, leaving

but not dying, the body no longer a hindrance.

Laura, his acupuncturist, gives him a box of kleenex.

He is sipping coffee with Caroline at Common Grounds.

During the night he hears knocking in his sleep,

in the midst of a dream he cannot remember, Elena

coming home late after an evening out drinking.

When he stands, his body wobbles, he lurches for the wall,

and feels like he’s about to evaporate. Don’t bring me back.

His diaper soaked and stinking. Is that a spot of blood?

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