Katie: Couldn't we talk about lunch instead? How about Thai?
Katie: Honestly, Mom, I’ve been avoiding this conversation because I don’t want to think about your dying.
Ellen: I'm not keen on it myself. But I want to make sure that you know a lot more about what I want than I did about Grandma.
Katie: But how can I make decisions about your care? I’m not a doctor.
Ellen: You don't know medicine, but you know me. I hope that when the time comes, my dying will fit the way I've lived.
Katie: Okay, I promise really good coffee until the end....
Ellen: My biggest fear is that there would come a time when I wouldn't know the people I love.
Katie: So what happens then? I’m not going to pull some plug while no one’s looking.
Ellen: No plugs. But I want you to have the courage to tell the doctors, “No more.” No more chemo, feeding tubes—nothing that extends my body's life after I'm not me. Choose less treatment, choose less pain, choose dying at home with all of you.
Katie: Got it.
Ellen: Whatever you decide, it'll be okay. I know you'll do the best you can. If you dare to feel guilty, I will come back and haunt you.
Next: Ellen Goodman on the most important conversation you'll ever have
Ellen Goodman is a Pulitzer Prize–winning syndicated columnist. Katie Goodman is a comedian and actress who can be found at katiegoodman.com.
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