41 year old Betsy Davis invited her friends to her southern California home for the weekend back in July, but the two day party was being thrown under unique circumstances.
"These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness," Davis wrote in her invitation. "There are no rules. Wear what you want, speak your mind, dance, hop, chant, sing, pray, but do not cry in front of me."
Davis, a former artist, was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. Over the past three years, she had slowly lost control of her body and could no longer stand or brush her teeth and required her caretakers to translate her slurred speech. She became one of the first California residents to take their life through medically-assisted suicide, as the act became legal just over a month prior.
Over 30 of Davis' closest friends and family attended the weekend gathering, which was carefully planned out by Davis. There was food, drinks, music, and movies throughout the course of the days. Guests tried on outfits Davis had picked for them and were invited to take her belongings as "Betsy souvenirs." At 6:45 on the second night, she was wheeled to a hillside and took in her last sunset as she took the drugs that would eventually cause her to slip into a coma and die.
"The idea to go and spend a beautiful weekend that culminates in their suicide — that is not a normal thing, not a normal, everyday occurrence. In the background of the lovely fun, smiles, and laughter that we had that weekend was the knowledge of what was coming," Neils Alpert, a cinematographer and friend of Davis, told Cosmopolitan of the party. "What Betsy did gave her the most beautiful death that any person could ever wish for."
Davis' friends and family will meet again on her birthday in June to spread her ashes.
Lead Image Credit: Andrew Knechel via Unsplash