All the important players were around the table. Glasses dripping condensation on the wooden surface as one voice kept trying to be heard a little louder than the rest. It was much warmer inside than out, even though the thermometer read 90 degrees. Unusual for this time of year, but the kids were loving that they could pull out the shorts and tank-tops for an afternoon.
My parents had come into town to help manage a situation that was slowly getting odder and odder to trade emails or texts about. Even the lawyer had taken a little time to speak from the beach, her voice calmly trying to answer questions while kids played in the background. (Yes, there is a slim piece of land just north of Boston that we call a beach. More rock than sand, there is a decent clam shack for those who are so inclined.)
If someone called me the ringmaster, they wouldn’t be too far off. The circus of people with their differing opinions get heard, but in the end it is my decision to make. Only I want them to understand how we got here.
Everyone gets the need for certain legal documents. Even the ones that spell out how to handle my medical issues once I am no longer capable. A game plan that I designed and hope others follow for the most part. (I think one or two family members might be a little faster to pull the plug than others just to gain control over a few things. But you can see them in the reptile house at the other side of the circus tent!)
Some plans in life shouldn’t need 15 year old girls being asked if they understand. But the way my parents raised me means that they get a voice. My niece deserves an opportunity to speak in a way that shows the adults she can handle what is being asked of her. To just inform her and insist she act out of obedience isn’t fair.
My dad sits there and takes it in. My mother is much more vocal, as is my den-mother in Boston. I was taken back by the inclusion of a friend, but that was also something my mother requested. It’s not a grand conspiracy, but I believe there is more communication there than I was made aware. But she said she wants to help, be there in a way I need and sometimes forget to ask; so I don’t question any of this.
All of this was necessary because of an offer from the doctors. They told me that by the end of the summer things are going to be bad. Finding an exit strategy for me was something that needed to be addressed. No one is actively asking me if I want to end my own life at some point, but they are asking if there is some mechanism in place if I chose that route.
When I was in the significant throws of depression after my daughter died and her mother left, I told the doctor that I could see multiple ways of ending my life just from objects in the office. My list bothered the therapist because it showed I had not only thought things through, my plan had so many contingencies that nothing was going to stop me. I obviously stopped myself in time, with lots of help. But the specter of the cancer was always floating right above my head.
Sitting around that table we went through everything. Discussed options and what I wanted versus what other people needed. It wasn’t just water dropping from glasses that left the surface stain with moisture.
This is an ugly mindset to need to have. But also one that requires a level of strength from not only me but in time all those other people.
And the biggest problem is now we wait hoping something beyond our control occurs so that we never have to have this talk again.