Thomas Bannen is a telecommunications professional in Oldsmar, Florida.

When my partner Karen got cancer, we talked about death many times because we both knew that her disease was not going away. She totally accepted this, and was ready to face death with courage and dignity.

After being admitted to the hospice center, she instructed me to buy two bottles of good cabernet and some plastic wine glasses. Her two children, two grandchildren, her brother and his wife, and I all gathered around her bed. She proceeded to toast each one of us, having something personal and encouraging to say to each one individually. This was her final goodbye.

She was totally in charge, totally at peace, and happy that she had this moment with the people she loved most. She was truly ready to leave this world. It was the most inspirational moment that any of us had ever experienced.

Two days later, Karen woke up one morning and said, “I’m not dead! I’m supposed to be dead by now!”

She lived for two more weeks.

I don’t believe that she was in pain, but she was slowly slipping away. She had had no food for over a month, and now she was taking only a few sips of water from the crushed ice we gave her.

Her life during the final two weeks lacked any semblance of quality. And this time was very hard on her family, all of whom watched as she slowly slipped away. She was comatose for the last three or four days.

How perfect it could have been if legislation sought by the Death with Dignity organization had been enacted before she had to face this. I have joined the death with dignity movement, a growing campaign that works to ensure terminally ill Americans have the freedom to choose from a full range of end-of-life options, including how they die.

Please take a moment to learn about this movement, I am convinced that it is very important. And, in Karen’s words, “Celebrate life!”