My Living Will

by Christopher Berry

This declaration is made on Sunday, September 25, 2011.

I, Christopher Berry, being of sound mind and possessing full mental capacity, make this declaration knowingly, purposefully, and voluntarily with the intent that it has full legal effect to dictate the disposition of my medical treatment in the event that I lose the capacity to decide for myself.

No, seriously. I mean it. This declaration might look like a joke but I seriously, unambiguously, one-hundred percent want it to have legal effect. If a judge in a court of law rules otherwise I direct you to report him or her to a judicial ethics board as well as the legislative body that has the power of impeachment over the judge. Lobby hard and mercilessly for impeachment on the grounds that the judge ignored the unambiguous intent for my living will to control. Also make sure this entire paragraph finds its way to the judge so he or she is aware of the shitstorm that will erupt if my will is ignored.

If at any time I should have incurable and irreversible injury or ailment that renders me incapable to direct my own medical treatment I would like you to do everything possible to keep me alive if there is even a scintilla of a chance of recovery. Which basically means always keep me alive since there is always a scintilla of a chance of recovery (you heard about that guy that came out of a coma after 40 years, right?). I want you to keep me alive because I’m an atheist and believe when I die that’s it. Gone forever. Time is irreversible and this wonderful experience I know as life will be destroyed the moment my brain dies. Let me cling on to it forever.

But actually, now that I think about it, how can I know right now what I would prefer if I were in that situation? Like maybe I’m in a coma living in some contrived hellish nightmare world where Hitler rapes me in the ass every day with a spiked baseball bat because I didn’t believe in God. Or what if I’m a paralyzed vegetable with some ruminating awareness of reality, living in a frozen body, agonizing every day, and wishing the horror would finally end. Then I definitely want you to let me die. But do it in a way so I don’t know what’s about to happen in case part of me still understands what’s going on in the outside world. Oh, I know! Tell me that I’m about to undergo a surgery that will cure me but then just pull out the feeding tube and I will lose consciousness believing I will wake up normal. That would be such a peaceful way to go out. But shit. Now that I suggested it there is no way it is going to work because I can see it coming.

So now I’m thinking that maybe I want to die if I’m unconscious and incurably and irreversibly injured or ailed. But the opposite could also be true — maybe I’m in a coma having wonderful dreams “in heaven” with loved ones and deceased pets to hang out with me. And I can fly and shoot bursts of plasma energy out of my hands like I always fantasized about as a kid. That’s pretty sweet. Or maybe I have the vaguest sense of reality and of my incurable condition but finally and fully appreciate the “miracle of life” — I savor every sweet drop of short time I have in this universe even if I am severely incapacitated. The thought of death terrifies me even more then than it does now. I don’t want to die.

So keep me alive. Unless nightmare thing is happening instead. Shit. How do you know what was going on in my head as I lie on the hospital bed with barely a heart beat or a blip of consciousness? How the fuck am I supposed to guess what is going on in my head when I am stretched out on that hospital bed? This is way too fucking deep and nuanced.

In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of death-delaying procedures, it is my intention that this declaration shall be honored by my family and physicians as the final expression of my legal right to refuse or demand medical or surgical treatment and accept the consequences of such refusal or demand.


Christopher Andrew Berry
This is my bona fide signature
September 25, 2011 7:24 PM EST