Monday, February 27, 2012

Another sadness

Our good friend Ernie, whom we visited in Puerto Vallarta at New Year's, took a turn for the worse and died on February 6, 2012. He had been flown to San Diego and spent his last days with members of his family and friends who live there. From what they tell us, our friend had experienced another stroke, which made it impossible for him to swallow or taste any food. Since Ernie had been a restaurateur all his life, and food had been a major love, he felt that he did not want the medical interventions which would have provided nourishment by means of stomach feeding tubes and intravenous supplements.

We had known about this situation, of course, because we stayed in daily touch with our (and his) San Diego friends and acquaintances. During that time, we had reports regarding Ernie's health which were indicating improvement one day, and a reversal the next. So when he decided that he wanted no more of this, and to have it all come to an end, we felt very sad, of course; we had known each other for about twenty-five years. We were also reminded of the ups and downs our son went through in his final stage of colorectal cancer, and the helplessness we felt in the face of the inevitable progress of a disease to its final conclusion. It was hard to take then and this time, and it will affect us for the rest of our lives, but we respected our son's and our friend's decisions to die. We think that, after going through a situation like this with the people you love and who support you, and after making all the necessary arrangements, we have the right to determine how to end our own lives.

In the middle of the month, his nephew arranged for a party to celebrate Ernie's life; we were invited, and booked a short trip to San Diego. The party was full of many happy memories of our travels together and other gatherings; Ernie was the catalyst and driving force of these events. This was a party as Ernie would have wished it to be. It's sad to think that we'll probably not see some of these people again - only the closer friends are likely to stay in touch; it's human nature.

So far, this is not the the better year we had hoped for at New Year's (