This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 4, 2008 - Several months ago I watched my mother slip away with both sadness and a selfish concern with my own death.
Toward the end of a long dying, when at last she lay in morphine-induced sleep, I saw not my mother but a corpse struggling to breathe. She was thin, bones I never knew she had protruding sharply from her chest, framing her chin. Her chest would heave slightly with the effort to bring air into her lungs. No other motion.