By the time the Rev. Ralph Mero arrived at Louise J.’s tiny Seattle apartment, she had already emptied the contents of the sleeping pills into a small cereal bowl. He had suggested mixing the 40 Nembutal capsules with something sweet, to make them more palatable; Louise chose a blend of applesauce and ice cream. Years of illness had left her too weak and shaky to open each tiny pill by hand, so instead she punctured the outer coating with a hypodermic syringe. Then she squeezed each capsule gently between her forefinger and thumb until the powder spilled out in a dusty cloud.
The resulting concoction was waiting in the refrigerator when Mero rang the bell, shortly after 8 on the brisk August night. Louise’s mother was already there, as was the one friend, a medical assistant, who had agreed to share this intimate moment. No one but Louise had handled the pills. Only her fingerprints were on the bowl. It would not do to implicate her new friend Mero, or her mother, or her doctor, or the handful of others who knew about and had helped her with her plan.
After the initial greetings, Mero sat on the couch where Louise lay curled in her favorite flannel nightgown and thick woolen socks. He took her hand in his, looked her in the eye and told her she could change her mind, that no one would think less of her for it, that she could wait until another day. READ MORE