Margo MacDonald’s Assisted Suicide (Scotland) draft was published last week. The same day a woman I’d known all my life died after a condition she’d had since her teens finally deteriorated to a terminal state. She was one of the strongest, bravest, bawdiest people I’ve had the privilege to know. I’m not going to enumerate her suffering here because, frankly, it’s not relevant. She was great, everyone who knew her was a better person for doing so.  What is relevant is her determination to maintain control over her life.

I don’t just mean the choice to live or die here, I mean control over every aspect of life. What the home helpers did, when they came, what they cooked (I discovered at her farewell that a book of offal cookery I’d given her was appreciated by everybody but the people charged with trimming chicken livers), the relationship they had with her wasn’t a bureaucratic one. It was a personal one.

I don’t know what the end was like for her. She’d experienced things I actually can’t describe. She’d been fighting for decades. There are many people like her. People who know what’s happening to them.

Who are we to deny them? What right does any of us have to say “no, you must suffer indignity and incapacity”?

My friend didn’t chose that way. She literally fought until her dying breath. It’s not for her that I write this.

It’s for me.

My disabilities aren’t life limiting. I will hopefully get old, my body will fail and, when the time comes as it does to all of us I will die.

I don’t know if I can be as brave as my friend. When my mind fails, when my body gives in and there’s clearly no way back I want my love ones around me followed by an armful of morphine.

“To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.  Death of one’s own free choice, death at the proper time, with a clear head and with joyfulness, consummated in the midst of children and witnesses:  so that an actual leave-taking is possible while he who is leaving is still there.”  – Friedrich Nietzsche, Expeditions of an Untimely Man

Who is society to deny me that?