My husband Reid was such a kind, happy, optimistic man. I was drawn to him immediately. At the time of his diagnosis, he was (as they say) in the prime of his life. At 55 he was healthy, accomplished, and athletic. Ironically, he just felt so lucky to be alive. We had worked hard in our careers and planned an early retirement. We had such big dreams.
Just before we realized those dreams, in January 2018, we received devastating news. Reid was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, a glioblastoma. Our world fell apart as the doctors’ words rolled off his tongue. We began grieving from that very first day. That evening in the hospital bed, we had our first discussion about MAiD. Reid wanted to have some control over his destiny, and I was fully supportive.
We continued to live our best life, squeezed in a trip to Iceland, even climbed a couple of mountains. But after several bouts of chemotherapy and a gruelling round of radiation, it became apparent that Reid was no match for the disease.
Early in December 2018, 11 months after his diagnosis, the day I had been dreading arrived. Reid decided he was ready. I felt as if I couldn’t get enough air. It literally hurt to breathe. As many times as I had rehearsed the conversation in my head, I wasn’t ready.
MAiD was arranged for the following Monday and that week became the longest week of my entire life.
On the morning of his death, we all gathered in the bedroom and each took turns telling our stories. Reid giggled, laughed, and cried as we all gave accounts of our favourite memories of him. Everyone had a different story to tell, they were all individual, and all beautiful. It was an unbelievable experience. Then, as his favorite rock music played softly in the background, I heard the kids tell Reid how much they all loved him, and quietly, comfortably, he slipped away. In that moment I was completely happy for him – happy that he was able to have the death that he had imagined. He died in my arms, in his own home, surrounded by his family. He would have said he was lucky.
Reid didn’t want to die. I knew the anguish, the sorrow, the love for a life he didn’t want to leave. But I think knowing that MAiD was an option, that he didn’t have to suffer needlessly, was a great comfort to both of us leading up to the day.
The only thing missing in my journey was someone to talk to, somebody who had been there, someone who really understood. I was surrounded by kids, family, friends, and medical staff, but I had honestly never felt so alone or so afraid.