Me Before You: A Story of Romance, Heroism, Bravery & Other Lies
Me Before You. The story of Will Traynor, a young man who, after a horrible accident, is living as a quadriplegic. His parents hire Louisa Clark, a quirky, chatty young woman, who becomes Will’s companion. Although they despise each other at first, they eventually grow closer, fall in love and enjoy some amazing adventures together. Finally- a story where the main character is living with a physical disability! I was excited when I picked up this book and enjoyed reading a story where I could so relate to the character and his life. So romantic. So heroic. So brave.
Until I got to the end.
You know, the part where Will travels to Switzerland to a medical facility that assists him in committing suicide. He ends his life. His disabled life. His life that is not worth living because he is in a wheelchair.
Let’s get something straight right off the bat. Suicide, despite the motive, is not romantic, is not heroic, and is not brave. It is final, it is selfish, and it is cowardly. Depending on your relationship with Jesus Christ, suicide can be a decision with devastating, eternal results. When you choose to end your own life, you are not making the difficult choice- you are making the easy one. You want to know what is brave? Waking up every morning and, despite your circumstances, making the choice to live.
Before you call me judgmental, let me tell you this. I’ve been there. I’ve lain in a hospital bed alone at night, considering the possibility that my only choice was to end my life. You see, I am Will Traynor. In 1999, while attending a summer camp in Wyoming, I had a ranching accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. I was sixteen years old, and I had an amazing life ahead of me, with plans to go to medical school, excel in athletics, and change the world. Suddenly, I found myself in a wheelchair, and my future dreams disappeared, one by one.
So I had a choice to make- the very same choice Will was faced with. The same choice people are faced with, day in and day out. Life is hard, and it doesn’t have to be a disabling accident that shows you this hard truth. All you have to do is look out your car window to see someone who is hurting, who is considering their options. Because pain is relative to your personal experience. What pushes one person to continue on may nearly break another. And while we can’t control what life throws our way, we can control how we respond to it.
I chose to live, and it was the best decision I have ever made. I thought about my family that I would leave behind, and the grief my choice would cause them. I thought about the finality of the choice to end my life. And I realized that a life with struggle was still better than no life at all. Are their aspects of my life that are difficult? Absolutely. Do I have days where the choice to live is harder to make than other days? You bet. But you see, I love my life. My disabled life. My life that, to some, is obviously not worth living because I am in a wheelchair. But I couldn’t disagree more. My life is worth living, and your life is worth living as well. You were created by an Almighty God for a reason- for a specific purpose- and you will never experience that purpose if you choose to waste the precious gift you have been given.
Want to write a story about romance? Go to Wisconsin and talk to my friend, Tasha. Her husband, Doug, fell in love with her because of her disability, not in spite of it. She travels across the country and shares her story in high schools to prevent teenage suicide. She’s making the choice to live her life and change the world. Want to write a story about heroism? Go to Colorado and talk to my friend, Chad. He fights personal demons every day after serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. He uses his struggles to help other veterans deal with their pain. He’s making the choice to live his life and change his world. Want to write a story about bravery? Come to Montana on Monday and accompany my family to the funeral of Julie Kellogg. She fought ovarian cancer with every fiber of her being until she breathed her last earthly breath on Wednesday afternoon. She woke up every morning and fought to live, and her testimony has changed my world.
So please, don’t go and see this movie. Don’t support the idea that life in a wheelchair is a life that is not worth living. Don’t support the lie that suicide is romantic, heroic, or brave. Me Before You is actually the perfect title, because it exposes the falsehood Hollywood is feeding us and shows the real truth- that the choice that Will makes is all about putting his own needs and desires before the needs and desires of the ones who love him.
What can you do instead? You can make the choice to live, and you can help others make that choice as well. You can be a listening ear, a sympathetic friend, a champion for someone who needs support. You can stop the bullying, the shaming, and the division. You can use your own brave choice to encourage others to also choose life.
If you are struggling with the choice to end your life, please make the choice to live. I know it can seem hopeless, but there is a beautiful life waiting for you if you can just find the courage to fight for it. Reach out and talk to someone, because no matter what you are dealing with, you are loved, and you are not alone. God created you to be victorious, and He can help you through any situation that comes your way. Make the brave choice- choose to live.