Yesterday I got the call we've all been waiting for for six months now, at 5 AM my grandfather died:For months he'd phase in and out of consciousness while machines kept him just alive.
When I was 11 years old I watched the same thing with my grandmother (these are both my paternal grandparents, my mother's parents died before I was born).
She'd suffered and fought against breast cancer for as long as I can remember. I have some early memories of playing with the few toys and watching Sesame Street at the Cancer center where she'd get her chemo treatments. For some reason they had fountain drinks there so I have a strange association between orange pop and the turbans my grandma wore when she lost her hair.
The cancer won in the end but for months my grandmother slept in a hospital bed in the middle of her living room, delirious and unaware of anything around her.
The kids weren't really allowed around her because she didn't know who we were. But I can still remember all that stuff, the machines, the tubes scattered throughout the house just to keep her heart beating a few more days.
She died 15 years ago and in that time technology's advanced just so far to keep my grandfather dying from cancer alive for a few months longer. He was still just as out and unaware of anything around him, but SCIENCE could keep his body warm.
That's never for me. I hope that when I go it's fast, no slowly inching one step closer to the pearly gates while each day losing what last bit of conscious I worked hard to create through my lifetime.
Terry Pratchett has a much better article on it as he faces the darkness of Alzheimer's.
But because I know that there's no way the U.S. system would ever allow someone who's ready to pass to take it into their own hands so I just have to hope that I won't have any doctors standing by suggesting their latest gadget to my family to try out to extend my non existent life a few more hours.