An emergency situation took me back to Germany when my sister called me to inform me that grandma Agnes who’s been severely suffering from bacterial pneumonia for a while now, has been living off a breathing tube inserted into her mouth that provided her with an easy flow of oxygen going into her lungs. Before this happened, grandma had been living alone for almost five years after grandpa Jürgen died from a heart stroke back in 2023. His death came unexpectedly which, as weird as that sounds, was more of a relief since there was no anticipation to the incident.
A lot of people feel like they need to be prepared for an event such as the unforeseeable death of a person. They need to see it coming so they can be emotionally ready for it and have the chance to tie things up and say goodbye before the loss happens. I think the opposite. Because seeing someone slowly drift away and crumble day after day is, for me, even more painful to watch. Seeing someone at their worst state erases what the person used to be like. Suddenly, you just can’t go back and remember how healthy and lively the person was. All you’re left with is a degenerated and weaker version, one that you don’t want to acknowledge ever existed.
Two weeks after I got there, the doctor revealed to us how serious the situation we were dealing with was. There was too little oxygen in her blood, so her body cells couldn’t work properly. The infection was spreading faster than we would’ve anticipated. My parents still wanted to prolong my grandma’s biological functioning regardless, which I thought was dishonorable because I don’t think she’d want us to keep her alive if she wasn’t actually sustaining a normal life. We also both knew that her situation was only going to get worse and that she wasn’t going to make it. It was clear she wouldn’t survive the year.
I’ve been in Stuttgart for almost a month at that point, and I needed to go back to Chicago. However, I couldn’t walk away from something like that. I had to find a way to deal with the finality of it, and that wasn’t going to happen with her being on life support. She had to go while I was still there. I wanted to free her from that limbo she was stuck into. I wasn’t going to wait for God to crack the skies and take her home.
I love my grandmother; she is a wonderful woman. I just couldn’t see her like that anymore. Her body was slowly wasting away, and her mind was gone. There was nothing of her left. She had deteriorated into something I didn’t even recognize. This woman who practically raised me and was there for me when I needed her was no longer the woman that I knew and loved. And that broke my heart. I’ve been experiencing a lot of sorrow lately. I’m still not over Ryan’s death and she was about to go too. My parents were also starting to lose patience because she needed an around the clock home care but were too afraid to admit it.
Last night, I finally took the initiative and decided to moonlight as her savior; an angel of death of some sort. Everyone was asleep when I walked inside her room with a pillow to smother her. It was the safest way for me to do it since pulling any of the plugs could’ve caused an alarming sound. I tried not to think too much about the act and just do it. After all, I was doing it out of compassion, so there was no reason for me to feel guilty. If assisted suicide was legal in Switzerland and most recently in Canada, there was no reason for it to no be legal elsewhere, and although grandma didn’t literally ask anyone to end her life, I knew deep inside that’s what she wanted. After grandpa’s death, her yearning to live had lessened. Standing above her, I was convinced she was no longer with us. Unlike my parents who were dragging on her suffering, I was ending it. I tried to remember her in her happier days when she was healthy; when her tender and blossoming beauty filled the room; I couldn’t. Those memories were so far away and corrupted I could only recollect instant flashes of her wholesome, cheerful days.
Her passing was as optimal as I had hoped it would be; fairly quick and uneventful. The relief and comfort I felt once the room turned completely silent was huge. We were finally both at peace.