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a couple of things about death

I didn't study today, but I did go for a run, the first one since September where I had a little spate of three runs in a week, the time before that in August, yada-yada, you get the picture, yes you do. Anyway, it was a mere 1.5 miles (oh, the heady days of a half-marathon on a whim) but it is a good place to start now that I am at this weight (heavy!) and this unfit. Regardless, it was a strangely enjoyable experience - cold, but not too cold, quiet, except for the odd batches of traffic, with a very peaceful warm-down walk at the end of the run. It was fun. As mentioned above, I am massively overweight these days, having piled on most of the three and a bit stone I lost three years ago. It is not good, and not at all enjoyable, something I need to bear in mind for, well, everything. Nothing fits, I'm unfit, I'm ungainly and blah. I know I've talked about it before, and it is a tad boring, but I need to keep talking about it until someone pays attention - that someone being me.

On a marginally related note - I am currently studying the legal personality. Yesterday was all about assisted suicide, the right to die and how the law interprets the line between wat is effectively justifiable suicide and what isn't. It is a complicated matter, with a wide range of moral, ethical and philosophical implications and factors. It is also the perfect vehicle for demonstrating the freedoms and bounds of a particular legal personality within a particular legal context. Either way, it brought to mind a couple of things; the quality of life aspect, particularly with regard to my dad's final few years, and the reading by the magnificent Mary Robinette Kowal at BristolCon 2013 - a story she had written about a man locked up in his own body* and what constitutes happiness and quality of life.

The quality of life aspect is an interesting one, and is very reliant on the distinction between what is acceptable to the individual and what is acceptable to the rest of the world. The tension between the two, particularly the legal aspect, is what provides the moral and ethical conundrum, especially when the individual is in no fit state to judge whether their own quality of life but others can (as, to an extent, with my father). Was my father's quality of life decent? I don't know. A few years before he died I was on holiday in Crete and he took a turn for the worse. My mother was given the option to turn off his life support, and in the absence of being able to get hold of me to find my opinion she elected not to.

Did she make the right decision? I honestly don't know. He was still with us, but severe Alzheimer's, arthritis and a number of other complications left him in no real fit state as a fully functioning human being. Regardless of his quality of life (comfortable in one context but poor in another), the impact on my mother was particularly hard, as she was pretty much his sole carer, with help for certain essentials. When he did pass away she became a new woman, off on adventures and all sorts.

Did she make the right choice? On balance I would say maybe not. He couldn't have been particularly happy, not knowing who or what was going on from one moment to the next. On my mother's part the pressure must have been immense, and I think she was very much caught between duty, love and freedom, for her and dad.

Would I have made the same choice? I tend to think not, but how much of that is influenced by eagle-eye hindsight I do not know. She made a judgement call at the time, for all the right reasons, as I would have done, or my brother would have done, or as most people would have done. Like all things, everything then played out from there.


eye, eye