So today my wife and I finally got our wills notarized and done. We’ve only been married over 16 years, so it’s not like this is late or anything. It’s a pretty big ordeal, though, when you have to sit down and actually contemplate, if not calculate, what you want to happen after you are dead. Gone. Deceased. Bought the farm. Pushing up the daisies. You probably know this schtick.
So we go down to the lawyer’s office, which coincidentally happens to be just around the corner from our internist’s office. I know it’s only a coincidence because it’s around the corner and on the next block, not the same block as the internist’s office. Otherwise that would just be freaky.
From the point that my wife contacted this lawyer (whom was recommended to her by a good friend), to today, was nearly 8 months. As the lawyer said, the birthing process was almost over!
She had to get three people to witness the signing of the documents, so she went around the office to get some folks that had a few minutes to lend to the process. One of them was one of the three receptionists. One of them was another lawyer in the office. The last was a woman who works for the building’s land lord! All that matters, though, is that they can sign and provide contact information for any possible legal proceedings based on the wills. So we initialed each page, and signed the final page. Then each of them initialed each page and signed off in their section. The whole thing took about 15 minutes, maybe.
Their work completed, they left the room. Then it was our turn to sign off on our Power of Attorney papers. I didn’t waver at all: If the doctor says it’s time to let me go, pull the plug and the feeding tube. If the doc thinks a morphine drip will help, fine, whatever. Just don’t try to rescue me from whatever is about to kill me. Let me fucking go!
My wife, however, did waver just a bit. She’s had her own run-ins with doctors, care-givers and insurance company people, and most of it over the past few years has been really bad. She has health issues and as a result, is highly symptomatic and never really comfortable. Doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with her, meds don’t really help much, and she has been told by several care-givers thus far that they are stumped and maybe she should try a different doctor. Seriously. They gave up on trying to help her. I know the whole “do no harm” thing, but doesn’t that cross over to “don’t abandon your patient?”
So for the Power of Attorney, she was hesitant about allowing a doctor to say that her life was essentially over and that she should be allowed to die off of any machinery and feeding tubes she may be connected to. If they can’t help her live comfortably, why should they be given that kind of power to let her die? An understandable reaction. The lawyer tried to convince her that her emotions were coloring her decision instead of the reality of the situation that may or may not come up. It took a bit. In the end, though, she signed off on the same deal that I did. In the end, it’s what we all go through in one form or another. Except those who are lucky enough to die, comfortably, in their sleep, in their own bed, without being surrounded by medical equipment, nurses and family members holding hands. But who gets that anymore? Medicine knows how to prolong life, but society doesn’t know how to attend to those that live well past the age that our antiquated laws and morals have told us is a normal life span.
As I said, it can be a pretty traumatic thing, staring your own mortality in the face and reducing it down to 7 pages of legalities.
So the papers are signed, everything is done except for getting us our copies. That’s when the building’s fire alarm goes off.
Oh, boy. Everyone is told to evacuate the building. My wife, I mentioned earlier, has medical issues, and she does not walk well. At all! And of course when you are evacuating a building because of a possible fire, you don’t take the elevators. You take the stairs. Thank goodness we were only up on the third floor. And that it was only a drill.
We exited the building and waited for our lawyer across the street. She, you see, didn’t exit the building with the rest of us. She went to make the copies for us first! There were two people outside with clipboards and reflective vests making sure people evacuated and went to their “designated meeting spot.” We’re clients. We don’t work there. “Well, you can’t stand in front of the building. You can just cross the street.”
…to the same block that our internist’s office is on. The circle closes.
The lawyer comes out and crosses over to us. She hands us our paperwork and says we are good to go, and tells my wife that she made the right decision. If we need anything, anything, to give her a call. We both liked her very much. It was the first time we had met her in person. She gave each of us a hug and kiss on the cheek, and she crossed back over… to the other side (of the street), to start filing back into the building with the other couple hundred people returning from their “designated meeting spot.”
The world continues to spin. I suppose that’s a good sign.