Art of Dying Volume One | Page 72

I asked Alan almost daily, "Are you sure this is what you want to do?" I had to make certain that the choice was his and that he wasn't doing this for me. And he would always say, "Yes, this is what I want to do." Finally, one day he looked at me and said, "I've made up my mind. This is what I am going to do. Please, don't ask anymore." I never asked him again. On the afternoon that Alan set the final date, he was crying. He said, "I'm feeling a little sad." Every step of the way there was a great deal of integration-- for Alan to make his decision and for me to be a conscious advocate who had the inner strength to move forward with it. If it weren't for our partnership, nothing would have happened. Alan would be in a facility today and probably still alive. That's why advocacy is so important. Alan: Knowing I will die soon is okay. I have no idea why I am so accepting now. It just is. I wasn't always this way. I don't think I am sad because I'm sick. My tears are because I am grateful. I'm not afraid of dying. I've lived a good life. I want everyone to know about VSED I know that I am going to die soon. There is no fear. In fact, I am kind of looking forward to it. I'm very curious. I'm sure there are other planes of existence. I'm curious as to what they are, how they are. This may be the best time of my life. I have no worries. I have nothing that I have to do. I have no practical concerns. I'm not trying to accomplish anything. I have no cares. All this brings me peace. I'm losing my brain to Alzheimer's and I realize that I'm okay, just the way I am. I know inner peace that I've never had before. I've learned to accept myself for what I am and not for what I'm supposed to do. Meditation has helped me not get caught up in the insanity that surrounds us. I think that anyone on a spiritual path has a tiny bit of the truth and is trying to figure it out. But the truth is huge and no one can grasp it. Everyone experiences their own truth. 72 | ART OF DYING As what I can do with my mind decreases, there is less and less stuff that is important to me. Only love and appreciation matter now. I am comfortable and at ease with everything. I just feel great all the time, even when I am tired. I am present all the time. I am happy all the time. I didn't feel this way most of my life. I'd love to help people reduce their suffering. I don't know how to do that. People notice how happy I look. I think that's important because I'm really at the end of this life. I'm sure it goes on. I was burdened by all the things that I thought I should be doing. And I'm not anymore. I'm not sure how to share this with other people. Phyllis, it’s up to you to do that. P: This was Alan's evolution in consciousness. The peace he was feeling is not typical of Alzheimer's. There was an interweaving of two strands of living– one strand of beingness, consciousness, awareness; and the strand of Alzheimer's. They did overlap and weave together, but Alan's peace was not occurring because of Alzheimer's. “ As a result of being witness to and partnering with Alan’s death, I feel a deep peacefulness surrounding my own death. That is the most beautiful part of his l egacy to me. PHYLLIS SHACTER