A Memoirby Amy Bloom
This trip to Zurich is a new, not quite normal version of something Brian and I love: traveling. Road trip, train ride, ferry ride, airplane anywhere. We like all travel and most shopping, and this trip to Zurich has all the accoutrements of our other trips, and is also nothing like anything we’ve ever done. As we usually do, we take a car service to the airport so we can be fancy and also avoid the park-and-shlep, and even before Brian has Alzheimer’s, our combined lack of direction adds twenty minutes to all transportation transitions. We have a restaurant meal before our 6 p.m. departure. I buy a stick of lipstick and a small tube of hand cream; Brian buys some candy. We share gum. We share a bottle of water.
On the plane we enjoy the settling in, the attention of the flight attendants, who already like us because Brian is mindful about his size and doesn’t swing his arm into someone else’s drink and he expresses appreciation to every single Swissair representative. We seem like people who will not be screaming for more booze or more peanuts at midnight. No one loves business class more than people who always fly coach.
We are smiling from the moment we board. I get to keeping our business class pods orderly; we are gushingly polite to the attendants. It’s obvious that we like each other and are happy to be traveling together. As soon as we get our beverages (in glasses!), we toast my sister and brother-in-law, who are paying for our business-class trip to Zurich.
Dignitas’s office is in Zurich, and that’s where we’re headed. Dignitas is a Swiss nonprofit organization offering accompanied suicide. For the past twenty-two years, Dignitas has been the only place to go if you are an American citizen who wants to die and if you are not certifiably terminally ill with no more than six months to live. This is the current standard in the United States, even in the nine right-to-die states, about which many older or chronically ill Americans harbor end-of-life fantasies and which I researched, at Brian’s direction, until we discovered that the only place in the world for painless, peaceful, and legal suicide is Dignitas, in the suburbs of Zurich.