Whichever euphemism you choose, the concept of human euthanasia evokes high emotions and tension.
At the time of writing this post, I just finished reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. And my first question is, “Why Jojo? Why did you make me feel all of these emotions before noon?”
Granted, I knew how the story ended. I previously read articles written from a Christian perspective discussing the novel and the subsequent movie. People within the disabled community called for a boycott claiming misrepresentation, feeling devalued.
As I read the inspiring and devastating fictional story of Will Traynor my senses of moral justice and mercy combatted as I struggled to reconcile his choices with mine.
A quadriplegic, Will Traynor faces the decision whether or not to end his own self-declared miserable existence. He battles the will of his family and caretaker, Louisa Clark, for whom he eventually develops feelings.
The title Me Before You, interpreted from different angles, begs the question: Is it me (Louisa) asking you (Will) to put me first and change your mind?
Or is it me (Will) asking you (Louisa) to put my comfort before your own?
Or is it possibly Louisa’s and Will’s separate lives before they overlapped and changed forever?
Without giving too much away, the storyline climaxes with heated explicit remarks from Louisa claiming that Will is being extremely selfish choosing to end his life prematurely.
A Christian who views all human life as equally valuable, I wrestled with the idea of assisted suicide, struggling with the thought that people could be so miserable that they saw death as their only logical option.
Throughout the novel, Louisa internally struggles, trying desperately to convince Will his life is worth living. In the end, Louisa and Will and the author makes it clear that she sees assisted suicide as a reasonable option for some.
Although Will’s story opened my eyes wider to see the thoughts and emotions leading up to such a pinnacle decision, I still disagree with Moyes.
I believe that Moyes would agree with me—all life is valuable. Although I believe that disabled people deserve as much freedom and choice in their care as possible, I do not believe anyone deserves the choice between life and death for themselves or others. This is where Moyes and I differ.
Your heart and my heart are still beating for a reason. Our lungs still fill with air for a purpose. Neither you nor I reserve the right to decide that those purposes are not enough.
On the other hand, who really wants to hear that their misfortune happened “for a reason?” It sounds cliché and trivializing.
But I digress …
This is a book review after all, not a philosophy discussion.
So, if I disagreed with the outcome and the author, why give it a 5-star review?
Because it made me feel. It made me think. It made me put myself in Will’s shoes. In Louisa’s shoes. It made me see from multiple perspectives, wondering what I would actually do in a situation like this. It opened my eyes to decisions that disabled people face and the reasoning behind the excruciatingly difficult choices they make.
As I sat in a secluded corner and read the last few chapters of Me Before You, I felt the lump rise and fall in my throat. That lump you get before you gasp for air or burst into tears. I found myself smiling and tearing up all within a few short pages.
I mourned the loss of all parties involved. But I rejoiced in Will’s life well lived and Louisa’s life, though just beginning.
And isn’t that the whole point?