LOOKING BACK I wince at the memory of reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead to my dying grandfather. The arrogance of imposing those terrifying descriptions of the final deterioration on the faltering impulses of an old Jewish man born in Odessa and dying in Brooklyn! My brother, having arrived from California expectedly, found me transmitting the eerie incantations through a plastic straw that went directly into his ear. Michael had grabbed the book, looked at the title, and thrown it across the room, screaming, "Are you crazy?"
What I knew even then was that it violated the universe itself—call it God or grace or not—to disturb the dying with discord. Now, twenty years later I am nursing my mother and I want to get it right this time, this wondrous responsibility of bidding the dying farewell.
Yet my brother has arrived again, and is so filled with enthusiasm for euthanasia that he argues in her hospital room as if the bed is empty.More »