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Catherine Bainbridge

I think I gave him the greatest gift I could

Ten years ago, my partner died by his own hand in the best possible circumstances. He had suffered prostate cancer which had progressed to the spine and was in danger of suffering a broken or damaged spine which would prevent him from being in control of his end.  He did not wish for any further treatment.

I was complicit in the arrangements and was proud to help him in his plight.  We planned our last times together and a final celebratory dinner. Everything went according to plan – we were both brave – it was extremely difficult, but, we did it.  I think I gave him the greatest gift I could by my understanding and support and his immense gratitude to me helped me through the abyss of grief.

I wrote intensively after the death – much of what we did was “illegal”, but we worked our own path. The key point was he did what he wanted and we did it in complete agreement. We were beholden to no-one. And it was right.

One of many poems which sums up the last days……..


Walking those same May steps.
Leaves colour
pomegranates split
seeds glisten and tumble

He turns grey
the pain increases
I stiffen, bracing.

Reprieve, briefly, he smiles
the sun is out
We laugh, it’s a miraculous escape.

Jagged pain once more
and he declares the end.

No dispute
my love is acceptance, respect, admiration.

And then
each to our own inevitable abyss.

Catherine Bainbridge May 2006

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