Autumn always surprises me.
Daylight slowly shrinks,
Nights are cooler,
Colors leach from the ground
As the flowers slowly fade.
And suddenly the trees are flame,
An astounding event
Like the sight of gray hair in the mirror
Or sagging papery skin.
I walk through the artist’s palette,
Wondering at the colors,
Breathing the crispness of the air.
This is just the third act,
A different scene
Neither feared nor resented,
But relished for its own joys.
Winter is inevitable
And I will approach it
Strolling through trees on fire
And inhaling the cool air
I guess it’s natural to think of the end of things as fall settles in. But it doesn’t have to be in a negative or morbid sense, but rather in the context of wheels and progressions.
My preoccupation is furthered by the presence on the Massachusetts ballot of a “Death with Dignity” proposition. It would give the individual the right to decide when and how to die, and would ensure that any assisting physician wouldn’t be prosecuted. I think it’s a wonderful idea.
How reassuring it would be to know that pain and suffering wouldn’t be drawn out. That a painless, quick method is available. I don’t mean that the decision should be an abrupt one. You shouldn’t make the leap to end it because you were dumped by your boyfriend of the “wrong” person won the election.
But when you come to the end of things, when, through illness, decrepitude or, perhaps, the feeling that you’ve seen everything you’ve wanted to see and done everything you’ve wanted to do, you know it’s time to end it, you should be able to do so. Further, there should be no worry that anyone helping you in this decision is going to suffer.
In the novel I’m writing now, which takes place in the 26th century, people live nearly 200 years. Rejuvenation treatments are standard, so no one ever really grows old. However, when individuals decide that they have had enough, they can Terminate. There is a party, attended by all their friends and loved ones, to celebrate, and they are then allowed to fall asleep. It’s very civilized and humane.
Even Albus Dumbledore described death as “really. . .like going to bed after a very, very long day.” I would like my end to be like that.