Lenore Avin is a retired risk analyst in Easton, Pennsylvania.
My father got mesothelioma in the late 1980’s and passed away in 1993 at the age of 76. He’d been exposed to asbestos in the 1940’s, when he worked as a pipe fitter at the Brooklyn navy yard and a plumber in the school system.
His illness lasted a number of years and as the predictable end was approaching, approximately 3 months before he would have died from this very painful disease, in December 1992, he attempted suicide by hoarding pills and liquor.
My parents had divorced in 1957. He started a new life in Florida and I didn’t see him that often. My relationship with him, though estranged, was a positive one.
He wrote this in my 8th grade graduation book:
Take nothing for granted,
Question everything, even me,
Seek the truth wherever it may lead,
And come to your own conclusions.
I lived in Brooklyn when he called me out of the blue, in January 1993. Our conversation was kind of sad. We mentioned what happened. He told me he loved me. I told him I loved him and understood, and it was okay to do whatever he needed to do. We left it at the last goodbye. His second attempt was successful, and he was dead the next day, the day before my 51st birthday.
Imagine if he had the opportunity to die with dignity? The additional agony of having to plan such a brutal end to his own life is testimony as to how unnecessarily humiliating and painful this is. How humane and kind it would have been, if he could have peacefully left this earth, heart and soul intact with his loved ones by his side.
I am now 74. I hope to be able to have a choice if it should come to that.