“It’s not enough for me. This world- my world- even with you in it. And believe me, Clark, my whole life has changed for the better since you came. But it’s not enough for me. It’s not the life I want.” Will Traynor- “Me Before You”
I was browsing Facebook when I saw someone posted a trailer of the upcoming movie “Me Before You” based on the book written by Jojo Moyes. The main characters in the movie are played by Sam Claflin (Will Traynor a.k.a Will) and Emilia Clarke (Louisa Clark or Lou). After watching the trailer, I was instantly hooked because of the fact that it is different from your usual chick flick movie. The guy, Will Traynor, ended up a quadriplegic after an accident. I decided to search the book online, and sure enough someone uploaded a PDF copy of the book in Google (Bless you Google!). I literally abandoned the ship of sleep until two in the morning because I was captivated by how the plot slowly unfolded like the world of Alice in Wonderland. While my friend was busy being giddy watching her variety show, I was weeping and squirming with despair beside her, figuratively speaking of course (LOL). It was absolutely a gut-wrenching story full of roller-coaster emotions from heartbreak, excitement, distress, sorrow, and empathy towards every single character of the story.
What probably got me thinking about the story is how difficult it is to let go and respect someone’s choice of wanting to die when you love that person dearly. It is a painful dilemma indeed, and Jojo Moyes does not fail to let the readers feel and relate to this. Will’s parents made a promise to him that after six months, they’re going to let him “kill himself” which means flying him to Switzerland to die through an assisted suicide method. To add more, the book focuses on the struggles of being a quadriplegic (such as pneumonia, autonomic dysreflexia to name a few) and how people around Will including Louisa Clark, the female lead, try every chance they get to change Will’s mind. However, according to Nathan, one of the characters in the story, “if he doesn’t’ want to live, then by forcing him to carry on, you, me- no matter how much we love him- we become just another shitty bunch of people taking away his choices.”
It is definitely selfish not to respect what Will wants especially when he is the one suffering the consequences or complications of being a quadriplegic the most. But the rest of the characters in the story have their own way of making the readers empathize with them and see their own perspectives of not letting Will have his way. For instance, Lou who falls in love with Will while taking care of him tries her best to let him accept a meaningful life with her by his side despite him being confined in a wheelchair. But in the end, accepting and respecting Will’s choice to die still prevailed. According to Will, having a life with Lou while he “accepts everything” is simply selfish on his part. Sobs*sobs*
I was initially bummed out that I did not get the ending which I wanted. You know, the “they live happily ever after” type of ending despite Will being a quadriplegic. Yet, it made me think about the real intention of the author which is opening the readers’ eyes to the struggles of living with a debilitating disability. That these people despite losing their ability to physically move on their own, giving them the choice to decide for themselves if they are mentally capable is the most important thing their love ones can offer for them to have the quality of life that they deserve. That respecting their wish to die as a means of ending their sufferings and being with them as they go through this difficult process are the real meanings of a selfless, true love.
“Although there is nothing I’d like more in the world than for the big guy to be happy, I can’t judge him for what he wants to do. It’s his choice. It should be his choice.” Nathan- “Me Before You”
It is easy for me to relate to the characters of the story because of the people I have taken care of in the hospital which I am currently at. This is probably the reason why I fell in love with the story in the first place. Most of the patients I have worked with sustained spinal cord injuries, and it is very tragic how they ended up being in a situation which having a choice was never an option. Some of them are young and highly educated people who still have so many things to offer and goals to achieve in their lives. But because of an accident they had, their dreams, choices, social life and freedom were ripped away from them in an instant. Being a witness of how these people struggle to have the things we take for granted such as communicating or maintaining our own airway and having to rely on ventilators to breathe for themselves are really disheartening. The quality of life and the idea of living with dignity are lacking, or better yet non-existent at all.
It is obviously wrong for me to make a general assumption that these people do not have a quality of life when most of them have strong support network around them. However, being a witness of how challenging it is to continue living and enduring the complications or consequences of having a spinal cord injury, it is not the life anyone would want. In my perspective, losing the physical ability to do the things I want in life, the independence to go anywhere, the choices of what to wear or when to wake up in the morning, the social life with the people around me and my voice as a human being in general is not the quality of life I envision for myself. If given the choice like Will in the story, I would want to die with dignity and end my sufferings all at once. That rather than being completely dependent on machines to keep me breathing, putting an end to everything through an assisted suicide is unarguably a better choice. For myself, at least.
Here’s the trailer of the movie.