This first story appeared in the May 14 issue of The New York Times Magazine. Written by Robin Marantz Henig, it's a deeply felt work. Here's how it begins:
The Last Day of Her Life
she resolved that before the disease stole her mind,
she would kill herself. The question was, when.
Over the next several weeks, Sandy told those closest to her about her diagnosis and her plan to end her life before she became incapable of doing so. No one in that inner circle tried to talk her out of suicide; they knew how fierce she could be once her mind was made up.
All they asked was that she promise not to choose a method that would be particularly disturbing — using a gun or jumping off a bridge into one of Ithaca’s famously beautiful gorges. Sandy had contemplated both of those options, but she didn’t want that sort of death either. “What I want,” she typed in her journal in an emphatic boldface font, “is to die on my own timetable and in my own nonviolent way.”
At one point, as Bern's power fades, her daughter, Emily, gives birth to Bern's first grandchild. Little Felix makes Bern think there might be some things her new self is better at than her former.
She told Emily that her "new brain" might actually make her better suited to being a grandmother than her focused, hyper- analytical "old brain." She seemed to have found a way of being that she liked, content to sing silly songs and make nonsense sounds for hours on end.
Emily, liked her mother this way too. As a child, Emily wanted to wear her hair long and take ballet lessons; Sandy, ever vigilant about gender stereotypes, nudged her to cut her hair and play soccer instead. But now Sandy didn't seem to care about such things. Emily thought that her mother was taking pleasure in life in a way that the old Sandy could not have anticipated – – and she found herself hoping that the joy her mother took in Felix might make her reconsider her intention to end her life quite so soon.I hope these few paragraphs will encourage you to read the full story. Click here for that.
Can Only the Young and Childless Truly Succeed in their Careers?
For many Americans, life has become all competition all the time. Workers across the socioeconomic spectrum, from hotel housekeepers to surgeons, have stories about toiling 12- to 16-hour days (often without overtime pay) and experiencing anxiety attacks and exhaustion. Public health experts have begun talking about stress as an epidemic.
The people who can compete and succeed in this culture are an ever-narrower slice of American society: largely young people who are healthy, and wealthy enough not to have to care for family members. An individual company can of course favor these individuals, as health insurers once did, and then pass them off to other businesses when they become parents or need to tend to their own parents. But this model of winning at all costs reinforces a distinctive American pathology of not making room for caregiving. The result: We hemorrhage talent and hollow out our society.
To continue reading, click here,