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妈妈对我最后的请求:帮她自杀

更新时间:2018-9-5 20:12:37 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Last Thing Mom Asked
妈妈对我最后的请求:帮她自杀

I am about to kill my mother.

我即将杀死我母亲。

I am looking for a way to put this off as long as possible, and so I start watching one of the final episodes of the TV drama “The Americans.” Today, Keri Russell, playing a Russian agent, is spying on a State Department official by posing as a nurse for his terminally ill wife.

我想方设法尽可能地拖延这件事,因此,我开始看电视剧《美国谍梦》(The Americans)终结季的某一集。今天,饰演前苏联特工的凯丽·拉塞尔(Keri Russell)通过假扮一名国务院官员患有末期绝症妻子的护士,对其进行监视。

The agent is a stone-cold murderer, but she feels desperately sorry for the official, whose attempts to help his wife kill herself with morphine have left her in a gasping, not-dead limbo. So Keri Russell finishes the job by shoving a paintbrush down the woman’s throat and holding a plastic bag over her head.

这名特工是一位冷血杀手,但她却无比同情这名官员。他用吗啡帮妻子自杀,却让妻子处在了一种大口喘气却没有死亡的状态。于是凯丽·拉塞尔将一支画笔塞进了这名女子的喉咙,用塑料袋罩住她的头,完成了这项任务。

This is not a good time to be watching this particular scene.

现在可不是看这个特别场面的好时候。

Right now my mother is in bed across the hall, in the endgame of Stage 4 lung cancer. She is nearly 83, she has had enough, and she is ready to die. More specifically, she is ready to have me help her die.

眼下,我母亲就躺在走廊对面的床上,她身患肺癌,现已发展到四期晚期了。她83岁,已经受够了,而且也做好了死亡的准备。说得再清楚一点,她已经做好了让我帮她死亡的准备。

I can see her point.

我懂她的意思。

An unsentimental, practical person, she has for many years been preparing for the moment when death would become more alluring than life. We have talked about it nonstop since she received her diagnosis about three months ago and, like Gloria Swanson going up in a blaze of grand pronouncements, declared that she intended to forgo chemotherapy.

我母亲是一个不会多愁善感、颇为实际的人。多年来,她一直在为这一刻做准备,即当死亡比生命更具诱惑力的时候。自大约三个月前收到了诊断书后,我们就一直在不停地谈论这件事,她像葛洛利亚·斯旺森(Gloria Swanson)般作出重大宣告,要放弃化疗。

“I would rather die than lose my hair,” she said airily to the startled oncologist, before terrorizing the hospital physiotherapist by snapping: “I could be dead in three months. Do you really think it’s going to make a difference if I get out of bed and walk around for five minutes now?”

“我宁愿去死,也不要掉头发,”她满不在乎地对震惊的肿瘤科医生说道,然后又大声说“我可能三个月就死了,你真的觉得如果我现在下床来回走五分钟,就能有什么不一样吗”,让医院的理疗师惊恐不已。

So she went home to die. She was her regular funny, astringent self.

于是她回家等死了。当时她还是平日里那个风趣幽默、正颜厉色的自己。

“Just put a pillow over my head,” she would say, only half joking, when I saw her each evening. “Am I dead yet?” she’d say in the morning, genuinely annoyed that terminal cancer was refusing to adhere to her imagined timetable.

“用枕头捂住我的头就行了,”每天晚上我见到她时,她会半开玩笑地这么说。“我死了吗?”她早上这么说,因为末期癌症没有遵守她想像中的时间表而感到气愤。

Gradually, the illness took hold, the inevitable became less abstract and the jokes stopped. Mom had vivid dreams of death so awful that she could not bring herself to describe them. She became too weak to leave her bed, more of her independence seeping out each day like air from a balloon. Her world closed in.

渐渐地,她病情加重了,不可避免的结局变得愈发明显,玩笑话也没了。母亲会做关于死亡的梦,这些梦如此生动可怕,以至于她都无法形容出梦的内容。她变得极其虚弱,无法下床,她的独立性像日渐憋下去的气球。她的世界关闭了。

Lung cancer is a frightening illness. In its final stages, it can make you feel as though you’re drowning, or suffocating. A formidable pharmacological stew of medications can help to suppress the symptoms, but no pill can take away the pain of waking up each day and remembering all over again that you are about to die.

肺癌是一种可怖的疾病。在最后阶段,它会让你觉得自己像是溺水,或者说窒息的感觉。一堆强大的药物能帮助抑制这些症状,但没有药物能消除每天醒来时又一次想起自己即将死去的痛苦。

I know what I’m supposed to do, because she has told me many times. One of the stories passed down as gospel in our tiny family is about how my late father, a doctor, helped his own mother — my grandmother Cecilia, whom I never met — at the end of her life. Her cancer was unbearable. “So he gave her a big dose of morphine to stop the pain,” my mother has always told my brother and me, as if reaching the end of a fairy tale. “It had the side effect of stopping her heart.”

我知道我应该做什么,因为她告诉过我很多次。在我们这个小家庭里,有些故事像福音一样传下来,其中一个讲的是,我已故的医生父亲如何在我从未谋面的祖母塞西莉亚临终之际帮助她。癌症的痛苦令她难以忍受。“所以他给了她大剂量的吗啡来止疼,”妈妈一直告诉我和兄弟,好像是在讲童话故事的结尾。“这有令她心脏停跳的副作用。”

As it happens, I have a big dose of morphine right here in the house. I also have some hefty doses of codeine, Ambien, Haldol and Ativan that I’ve cunningly stockpiled from the hospice service, like a squirrel hoarding for winter. In my top drawer, next to Mom’s passport, are more than 100 micrograms worth of fentanyl patches — enough to kill her and several passers-by.

碰巧的是,我家里就有大剂量的吗啡。我也有大量的可待因、唑吡坦、氟哌啶醇和劳拉西泮,都是我在临终关怀服务期间狡猾地储存起来的,就像冬天的松鼠囤积食物一样。在我的顶层抽屉里,就在妈妈的护照旁边,有超过100微克的芬太尼贴片——足以杀死她和好几个人。

But I am not a trained assassin. I am not a doctor. I am not very brave. I’m just a person who wants to do the most important thing that her mother has ever asked of her. I’m also a resident of New York State, where assisted suicide is illegal.

但我不是训练有素的杀手。我不是医生。我不太勇敢。我只想做母亲托付给我的一件最重要的事。另外,我是纽约州的居民,在这个州。协助自杀是非法的。

Mom has taken to drifting off in the middle of crucial sentences. “It’s important to remember the. …” she announces. “The one thing I need to tell you is. …” But in coherent moments she looks at me with a clarity that shreds my heart. My strong mother. “Oh, Sarah,” she says. “I’m in so much pain.”

妈妈开始断断续续说着那些关键的句子。“一定要记得……”她宣布。“我要告诉你一件事……”但在条理清楚的时候,她用清澈的眼光看着我,令我心碎。我坚强的母亲。“哦,莎拉,”她说。“我真的很痛苦。”

So it’s time. I begin counting up the drugs. But then I watch the bungled assisted suicide scene in “The Americans” and I see how easy it is to get wrong and I get scared. Often patients develop a tolerance for morphine, Keri Russell is saying in her guise as hospice nurse, explaining why the higher dose did not kill the dying wife.

所以是时候了。我开始计算药物的数量。但后来我在《美国谍梦》(The Americans)里看到那场搞砸了的协助自杀,看到出错是很容易的,我感到害怕。患者经常会对吗啡产生耐受性,凯丽·拉塞尔伪装成临终关怀护士,解释了为什么更高的剂量并没有杀死那个垂死的妻子。

How much is the right amount, I wonder, a morphine bottle in my hand. What if Mom chokes, vomits, falls into a half-dead limbo, wakes up and yells at me? How are you supposed to do this? I have no problem with the idea of committing murder on behalf of a dying person you love, but I can’t ask anyone else — the health aides, my brother — for help, since I don’t want to implicate them in my crime.

我手拿着一瓶吗啡,想着正确的剂量应该是多少。如果妈妈窒息、呕吐,陷入半死不活的状态、醒过来,冲我大喊大叫,那我应该怎么办?你该怎么应付这些?我并不介意为了垂死的深爱之人犯下谋杀罪,但我不能向别人寻求帮助——健康助理、我的兄弟——因为我不想把他们牵连到我的罪行里。

Panicked, I go online and start calling end-of-life organizations. The people are endlessly compassionate, but no one will, or can, tell me what dosage to give, or how to give it. I try to talk to one of the hospice workers, but she threatens to report me to the police. “We are not having this conversation,” she says.

我在恐慌中上网查询,并且给临终关怀组织打电话。人们报以无限的同情,但没有人会告诉我,或者能告诉我,应该施用多大剂量,或者如何施用。我试图和其中一位临终关怀工作者交谈,但她威胁要报警。“我们不可以进行这样的对话,”她说。

Oh, yes, we are. She tries another tack. “If you do this, you’ll never forgive yourself,” she says. Actually, I tell her, I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t.

噢,我偏要说。她尝试另一种策略。“如果你这样做了,你永远不会原谅自己,”她说。实际上,我告诉她,如果我不这样做,我才永远不会原谅自己。

But I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I promised, but I can’t.

但我不能这样做。我不能这样做。我承诺过,但我不能。

Families are complicated and mother-daughter relationships are perhaps the most complicated of all. I’ve had a lifetime of feeling unable to get anything right, really, with my mother.

家庭是很复杂的,母女关系可能是其中最最复杂的。真的,我一生都觉得无法处理好我和母亲之间的关系。

“Mom,” I say finally. I don’t want to bring this up. It’s so late, and she’s so weak and she’s drifting in and out and why didn’t we consider this particular eventuality before, the one where I lose my nerve. But. One thing you can do, I tell her, is to stop eating and drinking. We’ll make you comfortable. We’ll give you so many drugs that you won’t even know. It’ll be like sleeping.

“妈妈,”最后我终于说。我不想提起这件事。现在已经太晚了,而且她很虚弱,她一直断断续续地陷入昏迷,为什么我们之前没有考虑过这种特殊的可能性——我会失去勇气的可能性。但是,我告诉她,你可以做一件事,就是停止进食和饮水。我们会让你感到舒服。我们会给你很多药物,你甚至都意识不到。这就像睡觉一样。

About 20 minutes later, she emerges from her drugged state. “I’m ready,” she says clearly, “to fall asleep and not wake up.”

大约20分钟后,她从药物影响中清醒过来。“我准备好了,”她说,“可以长眠不醒了。”

The next day she wakes up. This is how incompetent I am. “You swore this wouldn’t happen, Sarah,” she says, her voice vibrating with fury. “I’m so sorry, Mama,” I say, crying as I drip more narcotics into her mouth with a syringe.

第二天她又醒了过来。我就是这么没用。“你发过誓,这种事不会发生,莎拉,”她说,她的声音充满了愤怒。“我很抱歉,妈妈,”我哭着用注射器将更多的麻醉剂滴入她的嘴里。

She lies in twilight for the next few days. But sometimes her eyes open in a panic and dart around, full of fear. It feels as if everything has become very primal, requiring an instinct for improvisation I don’t have.

接下来的几天,她躺在那里,处于弥留状态。但她的眼睛有时会惊慌失措地睁开,四下张望、充满恐惧。感觉一切都变得非常原始,需要一种我所不具备的随机应变的本能。

So I do what has always soothed me, ever since I was old enough to read. I pick up “Charlotte’s Web” and read the last two chapters — aloud, this time — the ones where Charlotte dies after living her singular, stylish life, and three of her chatty spider babies build little webs in the corner of the barn so they can stay with Wilbur the pig.

于是我做了一件从我识字起一直让我感到安慰的事。我拿起了《夏洛的网》(Charlotte’s Web),读了最后两章——这一次是大声朗读——在这两章里,夏洛度过了精彩、高雅的一生后与世长辞,她的三个健谈的蜘蛛宝宝在谷仓角落里织起了小小的蛛网,这样就可以留在小猪韦伯身边。

I always cried when I read this part to my daughters, years ago when they were small, and I cry again as I read it to my mother.

几年前,女儿们还小的时候,每当给她们读到这一段,我总会哭,当我给母亲读到这一段时,我再次哭了起来。

You are not alone, I repeat. You’ll live on, the way Charlotte does, through your grandchildren and their children. It’s O.K. now. You can go.

你并不孤单,我一再说着。你的生命将会延续,通过你的孙辈,还有他们的孩子,就像夏洛那样。没关系了。现在。你可以走了。

As I put the book away, I see that her eyes are closed, finally, and that her breathing has evened out, so that it is shallow but calm.

当我把书拿走时,我看到她的眼睛终于闭上了,她的呼吸平静了,虽然很浅,但很平静。

It takes one more day. There are, it turns out, many different ways to help someone die.

一天后,一切结束了。事实证明,要帮助他人死亡,有很多种不同的方法。

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