The paramedics had just brought my father into the emergency room. It was long after midnight, and his breathing was labored -- I was used to it, after his years of struggle with emphysema and a weak heart, but this was different.
Within a few minutes, ER doctors had sized up the situation, and looked at me. One of them asked: "We're going to have to put in a breathing tube. That OK?" I nodded. I didn't know what else to do. They began their work, and a young, disheveled intern stepped up next to me. "Once they put the tube in," he said, "that's usually it. You can't keep going without it."
And I knew: my family and I would have some decisions to make.