Are You Dead Yet?

EVERAL YEARS AGO, when Dick Teresi was a volunteer at the Fisher Home Hospice in Amherst, MA, nurses assigned him a demanding patient. Thomas, who was young by hospice standards, wanted nothing more than to enjoy the heavy metal music of his youth and indulge his sexual fantasies. Teresi was determined to honor his patient’s wishes. The two watched a rock music video and, rules be damned, Teresi made arrangements for a red-haired, green-eyed woman—per Thomas’s specifications—to come to the hospice and dance naked for him. Clearly Teresi knows how to throw an end of life party. But when the end is truly nigh, things turn decidedly less festive. “Are you dead or alive?” he asks the reader. “Can you prove it?” If not, he warns, doctors may take the opportunity to make you an organ donor before you are ready to become one.

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