Death trip

Letter from Laura Huxley to Julian Huxley 16 days after Aldous Huxley’s death

Then I don’t know exactly what time it was, he asked for his tablet and wrote, “Try LSD 100 intramuscular.” Suddenly something became very clear to me. I knew that we were together again after this torturous talking of the last two months. I knew then, I knew what was to be done. I went quickly into the cupboard in the other room where Dr. Bernstein was, and the TV which had just announced the shooting of Kennedy. I took the LSD and said, “I am going to give him a shot of LSD, he asked for it.”

The doctor had a moment of agitation because you know very well the uneasiness about this drug in the medical mind. Then he said, “All right, at this point what is the difference.” Whatever he had said, no “authority,” not even an army of authorities could have stopped me then. I went into Aldous’ room with the vial of LSD and prepared a syringe. The doctor asked me if I wanted him to give him the shot—maybe because he saw that my hands were trembling.

His asking me that made me conscious of my hands, and I said, “No I must do this.” I quieted myself, and when I gave him the shot my hands were very firm. Then, somehow, a great relief came to us both. I believe it was 11:20 when I gave him his first shot of 100 microgrammes. I sat near his bed and I said, “Darling, maybe in a little while I will take it with you. Would you like me to take it also in a little while?” I said a little while because I had no idea of when I should or could take it, in fact I have not been able to take it to this writing because of the condition around me. And he indicated “yes.”

We must keep in mind that by now he was speaking very, very little. Then I said, “Would you like Matthew to take it with you also? And he said, “Yes.” “What about Ellen?” He said, “Yes.” Then I mentioned two or three people who had been working with LSD and he said, “No, no, basta, basta.” Then I said, “What about Jinny?” And he said, “Yes,” with emphasis. Then we were quiet. I just sat there without speaking for a while.

After half an hour, the expression on his face began to change a little, and I asked him if he felt the effect of LSD, and he indicated no. Yet, I think that a something had taken place already. This was one of Aldous’ characteristics. He would always delay acknowledging the effect of any medicine, even when the effect was quite certainly there, unless the effect was very, very stong he would say no.

Now, the expression of his face was beginning to look as it did every time that he had the moksha medicine, when this immense expression of complete bliss and love would come over him. This was not the case now, but there was a change in comparison to what his face had been two hours ago. I let another half hour pass, and then I decided to give him another 100 mg. I told him I was going to do it, and he acquiesced. I gave him another shot, and then I began to talk to him. He was very quiet now; he was very quiet and his legs were getting colder; higher and higher I could see purple areas of cynosis.

Then I began to talk to him, saying, “Light and free,” Some of these thing I told him at night in these last few weeks before he would go to sleep, and now I said it more convincingly, more intensely—“go, go, let go, darling; forward and up. You are going forward and up; you are going towards the light. Willing and consciously you are going, willingly and consciously, and you are doing this beautifully; you are doing this so beautifully —you are going towards the light; you are going towards a greater love; you are going forward and up. It is so easy; it is so beautiful. You are doing it so beautifully, so easily. Light and free. Forward and up. You are going towards Maria’s love with my love. You are going towards a greater love than you have ever known. You are going towards the best, the greatest love, and it is easy, it is so easy, and you are doing it so beautifully.”

Once I asked him, “Do you hear me?” He squeezed my hand. He was hearing me. I was tempted to ask more questions, but in the morning he had begged me not to ask any more question, and the entire feeling was that things were right.

Later on I asked the same question, but the hand didn’t move any more. Now from two o’clock until the time he died, which was five-twenty, there was complete peace except for once. That must have been about three-thirty or four, when I saw the beginning of struggle in his lower lip. His lower lip began to move as if it were going to be a struggle for air. Then I gave the direction even more forcefully.

“It is easy, and you are doing this beautifully and willingly and consciously, in full awareness, in full awareness, darling, you are going towards the light.” I repeated these or similar words for the last three or four hours.

Once in a while my own emotion would overcome me, but if it did I immediately would leave the bed for two or three minutes, and would come back only when I could dismiss my emotion. The twitching of the lower lip lasted only a little bit, and it seemed to respond completely to what I was saying. “Easy, easy, and you are doing this willingly and consciously and beautifully—going forward and up, light anf free, forward and up towards the light, into the light, into complete love.” The twitching stopped, the breating became slower and slower, and there was absolutely not the slightest indication of contraction, of struggle. it was just that the breathing became slower—and slower—and slower, and at five-twenty the breathing stopped.

–8 December 1963

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