On the phone, at a gas station, in our dreams
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Katy Butler has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2013 her book Knocking on Heaven’s Door was named one of 100 Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times and one of the ten best memoirs by Publishers Weekly. She lives in Northern California with her partner of fourteen years, who in his retirement leads sing-alongs in dementia wards. Sometimes she sings with him.
The palliative-care nurse came one morning and put her ear on his gurgling chest. He had pneumonia, she said. He was finally dying decisively enough to qualify for hospice. Thanks to our involvement with her program, he would not meet his death in intensive care after a panicked stop in an emergency room. The nurse called the hospital and made the arrangements, and my mother called an ambulance.