Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Greatest Gift

image borrowed from bing

The Greatest Gift

“All men die, nations may rise & fall,
but an idea lives on.”--JFK.

Some truths are hidden beneath fear, mandates,
codes, & various interpretations of morality--
even so if one truly loves another,
would they have the authentic courage
to let them go--if the loved one wished it so?

Perhaps the greatest, most poignant & painful gift
of all is to allow our loved ones the RTD:
Right to Die, to embrace, or orchestrate
death with dignity;

Most of us tend to dismiss this Gift
as non-viable, not to be considered;
that is until cancer or some other
terminal illness invades our insulated lives,

and we find ourselves terribly tangled up
in matters of morality, mortal sin, euthanasia,
living wills & Do Not Resuscitate orders--
or when we are suddenly designated as a
Medical Durable Power of Attorney.

Sometimes this ethical conundrum raises
its death-head whenever a celebrity
commits suicide secondary to a
terminal illness or depression; folks like--
Hunter S. Thompson,
                  Kurt Cobain,
                       Pedro Armandariz,
                                       Brian Keith 
                                             Ernest Hemingway
                                                         Spalding Gray
                                              Sylvia Plath
                                      Charles Boyer
                          Richard Farnsworth
             Jonathan Winters
          Roger Ebert
   Nick Drake.

There are those of us who believe
that if a person is still of sound mind,
has a terminal illness, 
and is not under duress or pressure
from a family that wishes them gone,
they should have the right, the entitlement
to participate in a physician--assisted suicide;

and this is legal in only two states;
my home state of Washington is one of them;
where one is given the right to decline
a life-prolonging treatment, often horrific
& lethal itself, in order to continue to exist
as a vegetable, a side of meet housing only
a brain stem, a comatose lump, a zombie,
a bright soul entrapped in a corrupted receptacle--
with the humane proviso, of course, that they
be offered pallative care in order to reduce
unreasonable pain & suffering. 

The Right to Die should be universal,
freely given as a gift of love, never
as a curse or committed sin.

One’s body,
one’s life, are, in fact,
their own, & the Soul
should be given a loving option
to evacuate a deteriorating husk,
in order to soar freely,
and ready itself
for the next

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on Poetry Jam

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Mary said...

What a thought-provoking post, Glenn. I really do not believe in physician-assisted suicides..(remembering Dr. Kevorkian...) ..where a person is injected with some kinds of drugs which eventually kill them or some other means of causing death.

I do, however, believe in allowing the person to refuse further treatment and let nature take its course & giving the person drugs which will keep them comfortable as the body completes the dying process. That IS not suicide.

I did know that Washington State was one of the states that allowed physician-assisted suicides. I do not know what the other one is.

Helen said...

... And my home state is Oregon! Nicely penned, Glenn.

Glenn Buttkus said...

I think, in my heart, I agree with you, Mary; death with dignity does not have to be suicide; nature taking its course sans the pain. Yes, WA & OR lead the way in the fight to legalize RTD; a dark poetic, but certainly one to consider.

alan1704 said...

This is very brave and thought provoking, every coin has two sides and to see both at once is in itself a gift. Well said and well written.

Grace said...

Indeed a very sensitive and thought provoking issue ~ We have such rights here, to refuse further treatment but not to be injected with drugs to die though ~ Good to see you Glenn ~

Brian Miller said...

wow...hard issue you tackled...but i think of the girl in florida that was kept a vegetable by the family that did not want to let her go...i dont want that...i dont want to be kept alive by machines and have let that be known....

Laurie Kolp said...

Did you write this for me? Seriously, my mom has chosen no treatment and the doc said her quality of life would probably be better. Why buy time (literally) if you're going to suffer like that?

kaykuala said...

It boils down to morality issues that many find hard to compromise or even comprehend. Where there is life there is hope so they reasoned. And they dared not decide either way to matters of RTD. Just 2 states now suggest how very conservative the current feel is. But you brought out great thoughts Glenn. Great write again!


Björn said...

Lots of important thoughts here.. But still a dilemma.. The Hippocrates oath is still so ultimately important... How could we demand this service from another human being. Ultimately suicide is and should be a selfish act. To me, there lies the problem.

Gabriella said...

I do not agree with physician-assisted suicide but believe everything should be carried out to make death as painless as possible for those who are terminally ill and in great pain.
Living in a country where the law is the same for all citizens, I found it interesting to learn that two American States have this law concerning physician-assisted suicides.

Sumana Roy said...

further treatment can be refused but physician-assisted-suicide will def cause an indecent death..
...nicely written poem...

Robyn Greenhouse said...

You have taken this prompt to a new level and given something for us all to think about. This reminded me of the book Me Before You which is on the bestseller list. It also makes you consider this same topic.

Kathe W. said...

letting go is a gift - my mother suffered too long. A right to die should be a right.
Good post - excellent poem.

Peggy said...

What a difficult gift to give--letting a loved one go. But I tend to agree with you. Each of us should have the right to decide.

SaraV said...

Glenn, I completely agree. With two sets of parents in their 80's this really units home. Well done.