One day at work, in what began as one of the many casual conversations with my closest colleague and friend, he surprised me with his sudden seriousness. I was describing one of the latest challenges Katharine had presented us with, and instead of one of his usual lighthearted responses, he became very serious. It was unexpected, because he has such a wonderful sense of humor. Always able to see the funny side of any situation, from the creative stories our students tell when their term papers are late yet again, to the silly stuffiness of the endless bureaucratic memos we receive, he has often helped us to see a lighter side to our heavy caregiving burden.
Because of our long history together, it was surprising to see him so serious. He knew how much our family cared about Katharine, and we had had many conversations about the ways we were responding to her, but on that Monday morning, his tone took on a quiet seriousness when he said, “If I ever get like that, I hope someone shoots me.”
At first I thought he was kidding, because he often is. And his smile revealed only a halfhearted attempt at gravity. Still, his grim tone suggested that he believed it might be better to be dead than to be in what he surely thought was a miserable state like Katharine’s. I began to realize that in all of my stories about Katharine, we had never talked about what the experience might be like for her. My narratives were always about our family, and our responses to her. My friend obviously had