“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!” ~ Brittany Maynard 11-2-2014
Our life is our life. Our death should be ours as well.
From the moment we’re born we build experiences, make decisions create memories. We always believe the sun will rise, the world will turn, and a new day will bring a new little chapter in our life.
Yet, in the back of our minds, we know that it will all end. We know that one day the sun will still rise, the world will still turn, and new chapters will begin, but we won’t be apart of it.
What would you do if you knew that you had a short time left? Would you make the best of it, would you enhance your life, or would you let it simply extinguish like a flickering candle at the end of the wick?
I didn’t know Brittany Maynard, but like many other people I found out about her on the news. She had a short time left, and rather than lay in bed, rather than let the last days escape her, she made a decision that I can only hope I would have enough courage to even contemplate.
She lived her life to the fullest, and while doing that, brought attention to something that seems to be much more controversial than it should be….. How and when we die, should be our decision. And no one should have the right to keep us from it…..
In the end she was surrounded by her family, friends, a circle of people who while no doubt sad, loved her and respected her decision, and respected the life she lived. In her death she was blessed.
Family is an odd thing. Most people think of family as a group of people genetically attached by common ancestors. But, the reality is that family is the circle of people who love you and shower you with their acceptance, and let you live or die the way you need to.
Someone else I knew died this month… A girl, transgender, a woman, who lived her life never knowing the gifts she had. A woman who spent her life fighting for the simple right to live it as she needed to, and yet, even though she couldn’t grasp her gifts. She fought those who would have kept her from living her life much as Brittany fought those who would have kept her from the death of her own terms.
While Brittany was surrounded by her family at her death, Jenni wasn’t.
Jenni didn’t decide when she would die. Instead it was a chance happening, a brain aneurysm took her.
And after this happened those of us who tried to convince her just how special she was, those of us, even if distant, who were her real family had no power to fight her last battle with those so unfortunately genetically attached.
After Jenni’s death, they took her body, cut her hair, put her in a suit, and with an open casket and one last imaginary victory they thought they proved to her that they won the war she fought her entire life.
Of course their final disrespect had no bearing on her soul. But it was the ultimate in disgrace, and is a stark contrast to how Brittany passed on her own terms….
Tomorrow, the sun will rise, the world will turn, and a new chapter will begin even if we’re not a part of it. So live your life, and embrace your gifts even the ones that hurt. And do what you can to surround yourself with family, and be a part of someone else’s family.
Never forget this life is yours. This death is yours…