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Husband remembers terminally ill CT woman who ended her life on her own terms in VT

Lynda Shannon Bluestein, left, jams with her husband Paul in the living room of their home, Feb. 28, 2023, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi)
Rodrique Ngowi/AP
Lynda Shannon Bluestein, left, jams with her husband Paul in the living room of their home, Feb. 28, 2023, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi)

When Bridgeport resident Lynda Shannon Bluestein learned her death was imminent due to terminal cancer, she began a push to end her own life on her own terms.

Bluestein, 76, sued the state of Vermont, pushing for expanded access to a law there allowing people with a terminal illness to take lethal medication to end their own lives.

She prevailed. Last Thursday, Bluestein became one of the first non-residents to use that law, dying in Concord, surrounded by family.

Speaking on Connecticut Public Radio’s “Audacious” in 2022 Bluestein said dying on her own terms was a matter of personal choice.

“I want access to everyone for those who choose to have this as an option, having the full range of care that physicians can offer, and that includes extending my life, operating on me, giving me drugs. It also includes allowing me to say, when I've had enough, I can go to sleep and not wake up,” Bluestein said. “It's a moral question of doing the right thing by those who love me and by loving myself.”

CT Public’s Chion Wolf recorded this remembrance on Jan. 9, with her husband, Dr. Paul Bluestein. Below are excerpts from the interview.

On Lynda’s sense of humor 

Dr. Bluestein remembered his wife’s love of playing practical jokes on him. Once, his car doors kept unlocking on their own right after he locked them with his key fob.

“I said, ‘Lynda, there's something wrong with the car! I think I have to take it in. There must be something wrong with the electrical system,’” he said.

“And she said, ‘What do you think it is?’”

She had her own key fob hidden behind her back the whole time.

“Lynda had made a promise to me 40 years ago that she would make me laugh every day, regardless of how bad things got. At least once a day,” Dr. Bluestein said. “She kept that promise, literally, up until and including the day that she passed.”

How Paul would like Lynda to be remembered 

If he were to inscribe one sentence on a headstone for his wife, Dr. Bluestein said he would want it to say “she lived a life that mattered.”

He also shared other notes of remembrance from one of Lynda’s longtime friends.

“She said that she was going to miss Lynda's commitment, her friendship, her wit and her ‘righteous Irish outrage.’ I'd never heard that phrase before, but I thought that that was exactly right. Righteous Irish outrage.”

While it’s easy for some to complain when things are wrong, he said Lynda was different.

“Lynda saw things that were wrong and said ‘I have to do something about this.’”

Hear an extended conversation with Dr. Bluestein and Lynda's son, Jacob, on “Audacious” Saturday, Jan. 20, at 10 a.m. or on-demand.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the town where Bluestein died. It was Concord, Vermont, not Brattleboro. The story has been updated.

Chion Wolf is the host of Audacious with Chion Wolf on Connecticut Public, featuring conversations with people who have uncommon or misunderstood experiences, conditions, or professions.