Loneliness and the West Wing

Tonight I stayed in with Bodhi and my migraine although I had a very nice invitation to out and see some live music. I felt a bit bad about not going because I know that when I’m down I isolate, then I feel lonely, which makes me feel down…it’s a nasty cycle. Luckily I had a few episodes of the West Wing to watch. Unfortunately, it was a Christmas episode.

I’ll try to get to my point without giving you too many West Wing details. President Bartlet has MS. In this episode, the DEA suspended the license of a doctor in Oregon who assisted with the suicide of a terminally ill patient (which is legal in Oregon). Some of the team wants to take a stand on the issue, some of the team see that as a mistake. Toby (the Communications Director) goes to talk to the President.

TOBY – One in five patients requesting aid in dying has MS. One in five. Do you know what the questions sound like?

BARTLET – I’ve got a pretty good idea.

TOBY – “How long does the President think he has before his MS will become debilitating?” “Do the doctors anticipate a speedy decline?” “Does he have a plan?” “Does the First Lady have four glass vials and a syringe in a lock box in the night stand?”

BARTLET – [beat] She may chicken out. Maybe I’ll call you.

After all the Christmas plans fall apart (as most of the family plans do “We’ve never been Currier and Ives,” says Abbey, his wife) the President and his wife sit quietly and he tells her he is planning to put together a panel on assisted suicide.

ABBEY – Your position has changed?

BARTLET – [shakes his head no] Uh-uh… No syringe in the nightstand. It’ll get ugly and that’s that… You gonna be there?

ABBEY – [long pause] Yeah. [stands to leave]

I felt pretty alone just then, thinking about who would be there for me when my time comes. I looked down and found Bodhi staring lovingly into my eyes (did I mention that I was snacking on popcorn?), and I swear, for just a moment I teared up, grateful that at least he would be there for me. And then it occurred to me that barring any sudden unforeseen incidents, I will certainly outlive Bodhi. And then I felt sad all over again.

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