Editor’s note: MAiD, the acronym for Medical Assistance in Dying, became legal in Canada in 2016. A person with a grievous and irremediably medical condition where death is reasonably foreseeable can choose to seek medical assistance in dying. This is the third and final part of the story of Norman Osmond, who chose MAiD as his last wish.
By JOHN SPENCER
Special to the Wreckhouse Weekly
It was now a Thursday in August – the Chosen Day.
Thursday was also the day for each of the local grocery stores to put on the weekly specials. Norm was in his chair, dressed in his Sunday Best. As he glanced across at the flyers, there was an utterance that he would not be needing anything this week. Norm’s gift of ‘one liners’ had not been beaten by the deadly turmoil from within.
It was a magnificent morning.
Time did not stand still. Everything was targeted around the arrival of the medical team. A first visit was scheduled for midmorning. Medical lines, one primary and one secondary, had to be in place. Norm’s scheduled procedure was for 1 p.m.
As the morning unfolded, Norm’s family arrived. There were other visitors as well, including his lifelong neighbours who, throughout his short ordeal, had been checking on him daily. The number of times this wonderful neighbourhood delivered food and other acts of kindness in support of Norm and his family was beyond measure.
Today, sadly, it was time for Norm to return a thank you and a last goodbye.
It was a morning of stories – Norm in his chair with family close by. A grandchild too young to stay, cradled in her Mom’s arms, huddled close by her Pop. Saying goodbye was going to be difficult. The departure of Jessica and her mom, Tracy, brought silence, as no one seemed to know how to pick things up after a tearful goodbye.
Throughout the morning Norm had broken many of the silent moments with gestures, relieving a sense of tension within the living room. At one point, Norm even suggested that maybe someone should turn on the TV to get the hockey scores.
Norm was a great Bruins fan. He and I had joked what would happen if the Bruins advanced deep into the playoffs. Probably MAiD would be off the table.
Another of those light moments, just one of many along this short but agonizing journey.
The medical team returned again, close to the chosen time. Again, the question was asked relating to Norm’s wishes. The doctor spoke up, stating the procedure did not need to happen today, or any other day.
It was up to Norm, and he had made his decision.
Later the question was repeated as the drugs were prepared, on whether permission was granted to proceed.
“Green light all the way,” echoed softly throughout the room.
Norm fell into a deep sleep. Marion, the love of his love, sat next to him, and held his hand.
Norm was at peace. No more pain. No more suffering. Head to one side, eyes closed. No different a pose than the hundreds of sleeps he had drifted into sitting in that chair watching the evening news.
The physical Norm was at rest. The spiritual Norm was released to remain in hearts forever.
It was now time for family to say goodbye.
No one was in a hurry. This was family time with a loved one. The next couple of hours with Norm were treasured. Norm’s granddaughter, Beth, mother to Norm’s great-grandchild, Nash, moved to her Pop, taking his hand trying and desperately to fight back her tears.
Norm’s other grandson, Cody, sat with his Dad. Both hearts were wrenching.
Thoughts quickly came of their home in Halifax where Norm’s fourth grandchild, Fallon and her Mom, Glenda, were feeling their own pain. Fallon was so special.
Norm could hardly speak about her without filling up inside. A love chain growing stronger with each passing day. Fallon’s heart shattered in grief. Around the room, voices could be heard as the family shared their memories, their stories. Each was their own way of celebrating a life.
Eventually, it was only Marion and her boys, Shawn and Jan, in the living room with their Dad. Marion would be the last to leave, sitting alone with him.
For Marion, after nearly six decades of marriage, having to say farewell to her love, her soul mate, the one person who walked the road of life with her more than anyone else, could not have been easy. However, she was not alone. Norm would always be with her. As Marion left, the door to the home that Norm built was closed.
Norm was still in his chair.
But the house was not empty. Norm was still in control.
His wish and his decision to remain home, passing peacefully on his own terms and surrounded by the love of family, had been respected.