Our Take On The Brittany Maynard Case and Death With Dignity

By now I don’t think anyone hasn’t heard of Brittany Maynard, the twenty-nine-year-old woman who will most likely be ending her life on November 1, 2014, with a legal prescription drug, before cancer takes her. Brittany’s case has special meaning for me, because almost a year ago to the day, my husband, author Robert E. Bailey, passed away from that same cancer.

Glioblastoma is fortunately rare; about 22,000 people are diagnosed with this each year. But the tumor is a terror. On Glioblastoma Support Group, our Facebook support group of about 3000 people, maybe 1/3 of the patients have a tumor so aggressive or in such a bad location that they survive less than a year. The rest of us, with very few exceptions, have lost our loved ones within two years. We’ve had debates over there since Brittany’s original video was posted, the same as everywhere else on the net, but a lot of the rancor and religious pronouncements and posturing is missing. In our community, where all of us have this tumor or are caring for someone who does, we all understand.

The more I read from outraged Christians or from people nowhere near this stage of their illness, the more I want to post a few words to urge those standing in judgement to have a bit more empathy for the situation Brittany is really in (and could you please try to understand what that is first? Thank you), or, at the very least: Butt Out.

This isn’t you. The circumstances, the personal and family situation, of each and every death are specific to that being, be it person or animal. So is the life that being has had up to that point.

First, let’s try for an accurate understanding of where Brittany is. I see so many ignorant comments such as, “There’s chemo!” “There’s radiation!” “There’s cannabis oil!” “She isn’t even trying to live!”

Please understand that Brittany is in end stage disease. If you would read or listen carefully before rushing to make pronouncements about sin, God, and redemptive suffering, or suggest things that have already been tried or ruled out for very good reasons, I wouldn’t be seeing posts like these. Brittany Maynard’s tumor is HUGE. It takes up one quarter of the space inside her skull. As we in the support group know only too well, when the tumor is that size and growing, the writing is on the wall.

There are only two drugs that really do much to combat this at all, along with a smattering of others that are sometimes used as fallbacks; when those don’t work anymore, or the tumor is progressing at an alarming rate, I hate to say it, but it’s all over. That’s exactly where we were this time last year. Of course I was asking our neuro oncologist (affectionately known in our support group as The Wonderful Dr. Khan), “Isn’t there anything else?”

Of course Brittany has asked the same thing. Repeatedly. In a word, DUH.

She is not choosing to die rather than pursue an available treatment that makes sense. This cancer is a monster. To illustrate: in May of 2013, my husband Bob’s scan showed no visible tumor. In early July, he had two tumors that together would be about the size of Brittany’s one, plus a possible third. That big in two months. Those tumors flatten and destroy any normal brain tissue in their way, and there’s no getting it back again.

We didn’t live in a Death With Dignity state. Of course I had to ask myself when this story came out: If Virginia had a DWD law, would we have chosen to pursue that? I am a veterinarian and no stranger to euthanasia. We’re the only profession where you see and practice euthanasia every day.

In our unique circumstances, we would not have ended up taking this route. I say this for two reasons: One, Bob just wasn’t that kind of guy. He was a war vet, had worked in a dangerous profession for twenty-five years, and worked as an armored car driver for several years more after that, during a spate of widely publicized armored car robberies. I’d catch him on the computer after work, looking up the latest one.

He actually believed he’d die getting shot at, not from something as run-of-the-mill as cancer. One of his favorite sayings was, “Every day above ground is a good one,” and no matter how his speech didn’t make sense, or how often I had to feed him because his right hand didn’t work so well anymore, or how often I had to push him in his office chair to the bathroom or, later on, change his diaper, his demeanor tended toward that same attitude. He never got despondent or weepy toward the end. The most obvious unhappy emotional state I could identify during those insane last weeks a year ago was more a childlike bewilderment. (“Why can’t I get up?” “Because I don’t think I can pick you up by myself.” “Oh.”)

But I have to say that this was a peculiarity of Bob’s. Our society admires people who are always accepting of defeats and problems and handle them with this kind of cheerful and optimistic attitude; in fact, it demands this of us. If we can’t be this kind of person, we are looked down upon and scorned by others. (Being of the opposite temperament, I know this only too well.)

But I have read that a person’s emotional baseline is partially determined by genetics, and after experiencing Bob with GBM, I don’t doubt it. The last weeks of the dying process couldn’t make much of a dent in his general optimism; but, two years earlier during treatment, the steroid dexamethasone certainly could.

Bob was diabetic and tried like heck to stay off of steroids; they sent his blood glucose skyrocketing and made him insulin-dependent for as long as he took them. But after a prolonged period of brain swelling from the radiation treatments, The Wonderful Dr. Khan had no choice but to put him back on them, or the disabilities that came with Bob’s tumor location–problems speaking, an inability to read and write, and right-sided weakness–might have become permanent. When this formerly cheerful soul who had accepted a five-hour brain surgery and everything else up to this point with jokes and laughter started crying every morning when I had to leave for work, crying when I put up Christmas decorations, crying when he dropped his favorite bowl and it broke, I began to see exactly how little of our emotions and our reactions to things are under our conscious control, and how much of all that is just, brain. Brain chemistry. How much emotional suffering is a person experiencing through any given trial or tribulation? It really does vary from person to person, and genetics really does determine some of that. Ask anyone who researches Borderline Personality Disorder. They can tell you some more about this. It’s real.

So, to say, “I am going through this or something similar and I am not enduring such emotional suffering at the prospect of what will happen to me that I need to check out early, therefore neither are you and thus you are a coward/sinner/deserve to be punished by God,” is absolutely wrong. Not, not, not at all correct. Sorry, but that’s a fact.

I did say I had two reasons we would not have pursued assisted suicide under a DWD law. The second reason is that, for GBM, we had an easy ride.

Having spent almost three years on Glioblastoma Support Group, and having been there since the very beginning, I have read every story from the very, very good, to the very, very bad. We were lucky. Bob breezed through chemo, with nary a metallic taste, not a loss of appetite, no strokes, no persistent headaches, and only two seizures (and partial ones at that).

His disabilities, while distressing to him at the time–try being halfway through your fourth novel and suddenly being unable to read or write at all, and having terrible trouble speaking–resolved enough within two months to allow him to finish his last novel. He was never bedbound until the very, very end. He walked, he drove, he cooked for himself, he did laundry and dishes, he took out the trash. We went to the beach, to theme parks, he did book signings, he spoke at the first Richmond, Virginia brain tumor walk. He would apologize constantly for being sick. I’d tell him, “Sweetie, it’s no biggie. This is an easy ride,” and, having read absolute horror stories from patients much, much worse off, I knew it was the truth.

As a veterinarian, I have witnessed some horrible, horrible deaths. So when I read the accounts from those not so fortunate as we were, my understanding of what that family and that patient were going through was something alive and visceral. There is absolutely no way I would demand that any being, animal or human, die in such suffering, for any reason, religious or otherwise.

If I had seen Bob in that kind of pain at the end, and an option for ending it was available, would I have taken it? I guess it depends…on exactly how much pain, vs. how much I knew his first inclination would be to stick it out. And would I be looking for that one sign from him that made me absolutely sure, and not make that decision if I didn’t see that sign? You bet. Death is not a decision anyone makes lightly, and to accuse anyone of so doing is callous and, well, stupid. In the extreme.

But we never got there. Bob was in some pain at the end, that I know. One of the last things he wanted to do was for us to finally attend a writer’s conference together, which we had wanted to do the entire ten years we were a couple and circumstances simply had never allowed. On his birthday, September 13 of last year, we finally got to one. Instead of having his pain in his head, Bob experienced it down his right side. For the longest time, we thought he had strained his shoulder. It kept him from sleeping well, and one thing brain tumor patients need a lot of is sleep. He wasn’t at his best during the conference because of it (and he had to speak, oh dear.) And at the end of his life, when he had lost the ability to speak, we noticed him grimacing when we turned him onto his right side. But it was never so horrorific as some stories I read, where brain tumor patients died crying in pain for hours and hours, because they were allergic to the morphine drops and those could not be given. Again, we were lucky.

There are those who write, “But what meaningful experiences could you miss, ending your life prematurely like this?” And those questions have merit. During the very last weeks of his life, at exactly this time last year, Bob was mostly bedbound, able to sit up and get around only with extreme difficulty and the help of a strong back or two. He could understand speech, but his own was marred by what I can only call “brain static.” It was like trying to tune in a radio station too far away. Sometimes the conditions would be right, and three or four or many sentences would come out completely coherently. We had one marvelous conversation during this time that I will treasure for the rest of my days. Then, suddenly, a few minutes or a few hours later–BZZZ! A few sentences or a few words would sound normal, and then the gibberish would start.

Poor Bob. You could tell he understood what you said, and he was trying to reply intelligently, but the wires from the brain to the mouth were throwing sparks and smoke. Brain static.

Despite all this, when the news came through, in the last two weeks of his life, that two small publishers wanted the book it had been his goal to live long enough to finish, and that his agent wanted to shop it around to larger publishers, Bob was able to understand, and he was glad. We shared that last sip of champagne. He had longed all his life to be a writer, had to put it off until his late 40’s. It was a bittersweet triumph.

But he got to spend that last bit of time happy and excited. He tried to give me advice about dealing with his agent, about any book deal he might come up with. (I could only understand the first two sentences of it, but he knew and he was thrilled to talk about it.) For Bob, this was the culmination of lifelong dreams. Am I glad he stuck around for it? Yup.

But I don’t think that Brittany Maynard is talking about ending her life at this stage. If she reads this, she can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m thinking she’s guessing, with medical guidance, when she might enter that period when disability is so great, when pain is so total, that moments like these are no longer possible. And we got to that place, too, make no mistake.

I’m quite sure that if November 1st rolls around, and Brittany feels better than she had assumed, and she does not want to go yet, she won’t. And that is as it should be. To think that any terminally ill patient would not approach the decision, that irreversible decision about the day they will die, any other way, makes little sense to me. These people asserting that Brittany will now choose “suicide” on the first because the public’s eye is now on her and she feels like she has to go through with it now, seem to have even less sense, and I don’t care who I offend in saying so.

So please. Let Brittany be Brittany. Let her life be hers and her circumstances be hers, and her decision be hers. Butt the you-know-what-out. And if you’re ever terminally ill, we’ll all do the same thing for you.

Moving On

It’s been a very busy summer over here at the Lyons-Bailey household. Work always revs up in the summertime, and Bob wasn’t the only older family member I had to take care of. Starting in April, other family members started taking turns in the hospital, and  I made an appearance there myself a time or two. All of this slowed down the editing on Bob’s last book, Deja Noir, which he worked so hard to finish. But now it’s done, and on its way back to Agent Andy. When we have news on any book deal, we will let Bob’s fans and friends know in this space.

Lastly, shortly after Bob passed away, I took part in this interview of four families who had vastly different experiences with GBM. We all strongly recommend it for anyone newly diagnosed. GBM is a fast-moving disease and you don’t have much time to think about options and make decisions after getting a diagnosis like this. There’s a treasure trove of information here, so if you know anyone newly diagnosed, please pass this article along.

Thanks.

News

Although Bob finished his last book, Deja  Noir, and made it to one final writer’s conference, Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity in Baltimore, Maryland, over his birthday weekend September 13, he declined fairly quickly thereafter, and sadly succumbed to cancer this morning at 8:14.

He will live on in the books he so enjoyed writing, and when there’s news on his forthcoming Deja Noir, it will be posted here.

Thank you to all those who read, to all those who wrote, and to all who loved him. He will be missed.

Ten Minute Warning

Well, it’s now time for some very sad news. Bob did make it to the C3 conference this past September, where he got to speak on two panels and was honored by the organizers, Intrigue Publishing, for his incredible achievement in completing his last book under such adverse circumstances. But we knew then that things were just not right. He was getting weaker and weaker. I bought a transport chair in case we needed it at C3, and it was a good thing–we needed it all right.

Shortly thereafter it became obvious that the new chemo was no longer working. Sad to say with glioblastoma, there really are only two chemos, and when they don’t work anymore, it’s all over. More research, more funding, more awareness are badly needed for this disease.

Bob is now bedridden and we expect he may have a week or two to go. He lived to see one more writer’s conference, which is something we had wanted to do together for ten years, and to see the words, “The End” on his last book. Sad to say, he will not live to hold the book in his hands, but he has several offers for it and he is aware enough to understand that it will see publication one day soon.

Thank you to everyone who’s been along for the ride, who’s prayed, and who’s corresponded with us over the past two years. Thank you especially to those who’ve helped out with prayers, moral support, visits, sitting with Bob when I am not available, and other assorted things like fixing leaky faucets and doing pee-pee laundry at 3:30 am when our dryer was broken and multiple repair visits were needed to get it working.

Appreciate it, everyone. Really.

When Bob finally passes on, I’ll let everyone know here, and of course, when we have news about the book. The title is Deja Noir (at least for right now.) Be watching out for it!

Another Conference

We’re glad to be able to report that Bob is doing still better. He is even starting to be able  to read a few words again and that, considering how he was doing three weeks ago, is tremendous. But we had a short delay working on his book today due to a few tears we shed over Austin Camacho’s blog about Bob here. It was just such a nice thing to read.

We also wrote a blog for the Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity Conference here. If things continue as they  are, Bob should be able to be there. Everybody keep your fingers crossed!

This conference starts on Bob’s birthday, so it will be a doubly sweet victory for him to get there. The Creatures, Crimes & Creativity literary conference is for readers and writers of mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy and steam punk.

Improvement

Bob is improving! We’re pleased to be able to report that two infusions of Avastin have helped Bob tremendously. He is now up and about, taking care of a lot of activities of daily living himself, and hoping he improves enough to finish his last chapter. We were thinking he would not be able to make any of his author appearances this  summer, but now we are cautiously planning for him to be able to make his Hanover Book Festival appearance at least. We’ll keep everybody updated in this space.

Update

For those who haven’t heard, Bob has suffered a recurrence of his brain cancer. It is now in three different places in his brain, and they aren’t good places. Both Cullather Brain Tumor Center and the wonderful Dr. Khan are saying it’s time for hospice, but Bob isn’t ready to give up. He is trying to make his 7/23 Avastin infusion and even willing to go back on steroids to improve swelling and brain function. Bob is tough. Bob is a fighter. He  had a HORRIBLE 24 hours after his first Avastin infusion due to gout. Hardly even able to move at all in bed. So it’s hard to tell if the Avastin helped much. We’d know more if he were able to get up.

Obviously he will not make his Michigan appearances this weekend. I was going to announce he wouldn’t be making any, but some little bird is telling me to hold off for a while. Bob is tough. Bob is a fighter. If anyone can spare any prayers for Bob, please do. They helped with his gout last night. You can keep up to date with Bob’s progress on his Facebook page.

One Good Year

(posted by Linda)
The next morning the alarm goes off at six and I grit my teeth and drag myself out of bed. If I hurry, if I really hurry, I should be able to hit the ICU at seven, while I can reasonably expect Dr. Alexander to still be there on rounds. I don’t have to work today and really feel like I need more sleep, but morning rounds is my only chance to catch my husband’s surgeon.

Dr. Alexander tells me Bob is doing well and he plans to extubate later today. “What time?” I ask, knowing Bob will be looking for me the second he wakes up. “About three,” is the answer.

I’m worried about how agitated Bob seemed yesterday and I don’t want him upset, plus I do not realize how light his plane of anesthesia actually is. (Bob tells you himself in the previous entry.) I have a dozen errands I could run between now and three PM, and I believe I will do more good there than here.

I head for the hospital cafeteria for breakfast, then I go to the Cullather Brain Tumor Quality of Life Center and pick up financial aid information. One thing I can say is, help is out there; but the other thing I have to say is that it comes in reams and reams of paper that are little more than this link and that phone number. I page through them and my eyes glaze over. How can anyone be expected to sort through all this information? Especially when they’ve just been hit with a horrible diagnosis, the impending loss of their spouse, the sudden upheaval of routine, and hours upon hours of tears and lost sleep?

My next stop is the financial aid office. I have heard that, prior to Bob’s surgery, someone from here visited Bob while I was at work in an attempt to qualify us for assistance. Unfortunately, Bob having worked as a PI all his life, is very distrusting anyway of giving out personal information, and six milligrams of prednisone every six hours haven’t helped much. I have heard that he had been, um, somewhat rude. I apologize to the nice ladies and make sure the appropriate forms are filled out correctly.

I go to visit my great aunt Jean. I have been responsible for her affairs for the past three years and Bob has been a lot of help. This all started on her daughter Jean Ellen’s birthday and I didn’t make the birthday lunch, so I want to catch my aunt up on how Bob is doing; she’s been worried and anxious for news.

My next stop is the VA hospital off Route 10. I have heard that veterans can use the pharmacy there at discount prices or for free. I investigate and find out that this applies only if you are a patient there. Well, that’s never going to happen; Bob distrusts VA hospitals and would never become a patient at one. Too bad; I have looked up the chemo for this and discovered that it’s prohibitively expensive. How will we ever afford it?

On my way out I see a Dunbar armored car pull up. My husband’s coworkers have been terrific, calling to find out how he is, sending cards, and visiting him in the hospital. I approach the truck, careful not to startle the driver, and scratch a hasty note on paper I find in my purse–they’re not allowed to open the door. When the driver realizes who I am, he opens the door a crack and I give him a progress report for everyone.

I get back to the hospital at 2:30–plenty of time, I think, to get back up to ICU before they wake Bob up. I am apprehensive. Will he be able to talk? Will he be a semi-vegetable?

I buzz into the ICU and notice one thing right away: Bob has been moved. The room right by the nurses’ station is empty. Of course, I do know what an empty room might mean. But nobody was expecting that.

I walk forward and give the nurse at the desk my name. Immediately another attendant at the back of the unit, a middle-aged black man I assume is probably a nurse, flags me down with giant sweeps of his arm.

“Are you Miz Bailey?” he says. “Come on back! He’s been looking for you. Come on back!”
I am confused. They extubated Bob before I got up here? I’ll bet he’s been looking for me! I wouldn’t want to wake up alone in this place, either. For a moment, I don’t want to go in. If I don’t go in, I don’t hear or see any bad news. The male nurse hurries forward.

“They extubated him?” I say, blinking. “They extubated him already?”

“Yeah. He’s already had one visitor, an older gentleman from a…writer’s group? Brown hair and glasses. But he’s been asking for you.”

Joe. He’s describing Joe, who has run our writer’s group almost fifteen years–it’s where Bob and I met. Joe’s already been here and gone?

They must have extubated Bob a while ago. Now I feel really bad. Here I’ve been gallivanting all around Richmond, thinking I have all this time to kill, while my husband has been awake for who knows how long, alone and disoriented, and looking for me. Probably with several nurses sniffing, “Where’s the wife, anyway?” At least Joe was here. Good grief.

At least he’s talking. That is good news right up front. If he’s awake and he’s got enough wits to ask where I am, we’re already several miles ahead of what I was expecting.

I follow the male nurse back to Bob’s new room, a smallish cubicle with a glass wall. He is propped up in bed, and as soon as he sees me, his eyes turn red and big tears start down his face. He looks odd somehow, besides the big padded bandage, but I can’t place exactly what is off about him.

“Where were you?” he says. “I was looking for you. I was worried.”

It’s hard to hug somebody in a hospital bed. I hold back tears and reach over the railings for a clumsy hug, avoiding all the padding over his left ear.

“I’m sorry, sweetie!” I tell him, kissing him on lips wet with tears. “They told me to be here at three o’ clock!”

“I kept asking where you were,” he says. “Linda,” he states, as if it were the answer to a question, with a downward chop of his index finger. “I remembered ‘Linda’.”

And then he breaks down sobbing. I’m assuming it’s because he woke up here alone and thought something had happened to me, but through the tears I discern the other reason. I have to tell him his son’s names.

He tries to tell me Joe was here. He can’t remember Joe’s name, either.

Maybe things aren’t as rosy as I thought. I think that maybe this is permanent. But I was preparing myself for a husband who might wake up bedridden, who might wake up mute. Bob is talking, and he’s making sense. I think to myself that if he can’t remember names, this much I can handle.

I apologize to him over and over. If they had told me the right time, I would have been here.
“They brought me all these cards people sent,” he says. He reaches over, and sure enough, there’s a small stack of greeting cards on the bedside tray. Cards from people at work, cards from people in writer’s group. He shows them to me, and then he opens one and begins to read.

I am astonished and overjoyed. He reads very slowly, and I have to help him with every third word, but he’s reading! He’s actually reading!

A therapist from Sheltering Arms, the local rehab hospital, comes in to assess him. I watch as she leads him though some exercises. He speaks slowly and he gets stuck on the same words over and over. “Diabetes” is a word he can’t seem to remember; also, “Dunbar”, and anything that starts with a “c” or a “k” sound. He can’t ask for coffee because he can’t remember the word “cup.” At work, he’s made pickups here hundreds of times, but when he’s asked where he is, he can’t remember the name “St. Mary’s”. Instead, he answers with a number that has nurses and speech therapists scratching their heads: “Fifty-eight oh-one.” They need only to look at their paychecks; it’s the street address of the hospital.

The speech therapist is there maybe forty-five minutes. Bob aces maybe seventy-five percent of the tasks she gives him. He is doing noticeably better when she walks out than he did when she walked in. As she leaves, they are bringing him his lunch. Bob asks for a beer.

I excuse myself to visit the ladies room–the toilet in here slides out from inside a cabinet, imagine that!–and flag down a nurse outside. I introduce myself and remark on how well my husband is doing. “What time did they extubate him?” I ask.

“About ten AM,” says the nurse.

Ten AM?? I want to scream at the nurse. All that upset and all those tears. Couldn’t they have told me the right time? I was still in the hospital at ten AM, finishing my breakfast and signing financial aid papers, while that whole entire time Bob was having this painful cold tube pulled out of his throat and panicking, wondering what had happened that I wasn’t there.

“But…” I say, trying to remain polite. “Dr. Alexander said be here at three PM.”

“Oh, I wish he wouldn’t tell people that,” scoffs the nurse. “He doesn’t know what time we do things up here.”
What can I say? I buzz out of the unit and head for the ladies’ room.

It’s a hot day out, and I wash my face and brush my hair to freshen up. I find myself smiling, floating higher and higher. Bob is weak, but he’s talking, and he’s reading! It may be all over soon, but it is not all over yet.
I walk out to find Adam and Eric seated in the waiting area. I bounce up and down like a schoolgirl on speed. “He’s reading!” I tell them. “He’s doing great!”

Both boys stare at me as if I have lost my wits. Finally Eric speaks up, treading carefully. “Um…you do realize this is terminal, right?”

I wave my hand in dismissal. “Oh, I know that. I knew that the first night. But he’s talking! He’s reading!”
The boys look at each other, get up, and follow me back into the ICU. Adam, registered sleep technician that he is, watches Bob’s ECG and coaches him on blowing into the standard issue plastic lung-clearing exerciser. Bob blows and coughs, blows and coughs. The nurses have gotten him out of bed and sat him up in a chair, where he writes, “cup cup cup” over and over on a pad of paper, trying to fix the little word back in his vocabulary. His handwriting is as shaky as a six-year-old’s, but over the seven hours I am there, his speech improves tremendously.

I bend down to kiss him goodnight, when I suddenly realize what it is that looks “off.” “Sweetie!” I say. “They shaved off your moustache!”

He reaches up and feels his top lip, where they taped the endotracheal tube in. “They shaved off my moustache? Why’d they do that? Crap!” We all smile. He is sounding a lot like the old Bob as I kiss him good night.
I leave the hospital smiling.

We found each other late in life. We have been married almost six years. I wish I could say they were under good circumstances, but they haven’t been. Bob fixed up his house in Michigan for two years–those were two years we spent apart. He sold it right at the beginning of the housing crunch, so instead of coming home with working money to write a fourth novel, as he had planned, he came home in debt. Neither one of us has been able to write until just this year, and I still can’t. First it was work, work, work to get out of debt from the house, and then–just when it looked like, just when it looked like, just when it looked like–both of us might be able to slow down and spend time doing what we’d dreamed we’d do, writing–

I got the call about my aunt and cousin, and the past two years has been jammed full of the hardest sort of work. Trying to get two querulous incompetent people who think they’re competent, and worse, think they’re rich, to agree to move to a supervised living situation and then behave themselves there is not easy, and full of tense moments. I found out I had been looking at the writing business with the eyes of a two-year-old, and basically gave up on a goal I’d had for ten years. Between the Jeans and the house and the bills and work and high cholesterol (read, healthy meal preparation and the gym), I had to give up writing altogether.

And then GBM happened.

I don’t pray to a God anymore; I no longer believe in one. But I tell myself as I leave that if we can have one good year together, just one good year, I will be happy. Horrible things lie in wait, but then again, who actually has that grace filled, easy death one night in his sleep? Not as many as want it, that’s for sure. If we can have some peace, if we can have some quiet, if Bob can finish this one book he’s been trying to write for four years, if we can have one good year before everything heads south, I will be satisfied.

And it looks like it actually might happen.