TRICIA REACHED for another blanket. “Are you cold?” she asked.
Rebecca’s breath was raspy as she responded. As her lungs shut down due to ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, her ability to speak had started to decline. Muscle by muscle, ALS targeted the body and made it impossible for the individual to live a normal life. It had started a few years ago with Rebecca’s legs. Now, her lung muscles were starting to freeze as well. Tricia winced as she thought about the future. If Rebecca chose to use machines to stay alive, her entire body would eventually stop working. At some point, her mind would remain functioning and she would be locked into her body.
Rebecca managed to squeeze out a feeble yes. Reaching over to the cupboard, Tricia removed a blanket and carefully tucked her in. Tricia had spent years training to be a nurse and really liked her job. Since she was an excellent nurse, she had caught the eye of the billionaire, John, at one of the couple’s many trips to hospitals around the country. He had noticed the love and care she took with each patient. After a moment’s hesitation, Tricia had allowed him to convince her to take care of his wife.
Pictures of Rebecca dotted the room. Since she was unable to leave, John had striven to make her room look like favorite memories of her life and activities. A young, healthy Rebecca smiled in each photo. In the few years she had been physically active, she had acquired awards for horseback riding, cooking and other projects. Now, though, this time of physical fitness had passed. Instead of dashing through the fields on her favorite horse, Rebecca spent her time in this room. She had taken her difficulties in stride and was truly brave in the face of all of these medical issues.
Finishing with the blanket, Rebecca started to say something. Leaning closer to hear her, Tricia finally pulled up a chair. “What do you need, Rebecca?” she queried.
Sighing, Rebecca whispered, “I need to talk to John. I have to tell him how I want to die.”
Squeezing her hand, Tricia nodded. “Once I leave your room, I will go get him. Just in case he is not around, did you want me to give him a message?”
Rebecca tried to nod, but her head did not respond all the way. “Yes, I do. You need to tell him that I do not want any machines. He could keep me alive forever with a breathing tube, but I do not want to live a life where I am permanently locked into my body. And,” she paused and struggled to take another breath. “I do not want him to stop enjoying life or waiting around for my eventual death. If God wants to take my soul now, we should not interfere.”
Tricia nodded sadly. Most patients with ALS were more afraid of being stuck within their minds than actual death. She understood, but she could not imagine what life would be like without Rebecca’s gentle soul. “I will tell him,” she said.