In a quickly darkening Friday afternoon in February, the mood is light at David Forsee’s house. When the seventy-two-year-old Hamilton man spoke to his doctor earlier, he realized making an appointment to die is akin to buying milk or renewing your driver’s license. “I went from the mystical, complex question of which day is right, to waiting in line,” he says through his oxygen mask.
Forsee has Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, an ultimately fatal lung disease marked by progressive tissue scarring and shortness of breath, and in late January he’d been approved for medical assistance in dying (MAID). He requested Monday morning, but his doctor already had another MAID appointment—how about Wednesday at seven p.m.? “I don’t want to spend the day sitting around,” Forsee says. “Three hours to go, two hours to go—I couldn’t handle it.”
“I cried and laughed,” Forsee’s friend and housemate Sarah Truman says. “Who wants to die on a Wednesday night at seven?”
The doctor said her next available morning was Saturday the eleventh, eight days away. Like that, Forsee’s death was pencilled in. Though he’s been losing weight steadily (a side effect of one of the IPF drugs), at 6’6” he remains an imposing figure. He’s sitting upright in the middle seat of the living room couch, the oxygen line wending across the hardwood floor to a sixty-litre tank called The Liberator that’s parked near the front door. Truman stands behind the couch with her hands on Forsee’s shoulders, occasionally looking down at his shaved head. She admits her imagination has assumed a nineteenth century ghoulishness: “Will they come kill him and then just leave? ‘Oh, we’re not taking the body, we only do the death part.’ Will a horse-drawn hearse show up?”
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