Adapted from Witchel’s forthcoming memoir All Gone. A daughter adjusts after her mother develops stroke-related dementia:
Mom faced me. ‘I want you to kill me,’ she said solemnly. For decades, she insisted that if she was mentally compromised in any way, her children were to pull the plug. But the situations we’d imagined never included her being compromised outside of a hospital, lasting years on end.
‘I can’t kill you,’ I answered steadily. ‘I have a husband and two stepsons and a mortgage. Someone will find out, and then I’ll have to go to prison.’
She sighed, exasperated.
‘I know this issue has always been important to you,’ I said. ‘So if you feel strongly about it, I understand that. You can end your own life. There are plenty of places that can help you do that.’
She was monumentally offended. ‘Committing suicide is against the Jewish religion!’ she declared.
I was dumbfounded. ‘So is committing murder! Did you ever think of that?’
“How My Mother Disappeared.” — Alex Witchel, New York Times Magazine