Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Well done, Brittany. May you rest in peace.

A year ago I posted:  "...the Hebrew word, the word timshel - 'Thou mayest' - that gives a choice.  It might be the most important word in the world.  That says the way is open.  That throws it right back on man.  For if - 'Thou mayest' - it is also true that 'Thou mayest not'." ~ John Steinbeck.  East of Eden

It was at that time that Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old with Stage IV glioblastoma, an affliction for which she had no cure, left her home in California for Oregon so that she and her family could access her right to self administer physician prescribed lethal medications made available by the Death with Dignity Act.  She and her family also shared her story in their fight to make the rights she sought available to all states. Public discourse ensued as others told their story and shared their perspectives.  Here is a link to that post:  Death with dignity. Timshel.

Brittany died last November, in the manner she thought best for her and those she loved.  At that time, only Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Vermont allowed doctors to prescribe life ending medications.  However, Brittany's family continued to lobby for that right to be extended to those who sought it in California.  And this month:  California legislature approves assisted suicide

A few days later, California Governor signs assisted suicide bill into law 

I am positive that such end of life decisions are never easy for any individual or family.  I think I know what I would want under certain circumstances, but I suspect that even I cannot be certain of my own final decision until I am ultimately confronted. I do not think that any one option is right for everyone, but I am convinced that we all deserve the right to choose.  Even so, given that the laws providing for legal assistance with suicide are geographically limited and selectively defined (excluding the option for folks with dementia as well as those who have a progressively debilitating disease, but not a definitive 6 months-left-to-live window) many, many people will not have death with dignity as a choice. Despite sweeping death with dignity law few will have that option

While others may interpret the following poem very differently, I think the words of Dylan Thomas fit this dilemma perfectly.  Though I never met her, I think there is no one who "raged against the dying of the light" more than Brittany Maynard.  She did not go gentle.  She went strong....and knowing....with "deeds" that met her purpose and were a gift to many. 

Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Bless you and yours, Brittany.  Your life has been a light that continues to shine. Timshel. - c

1 comment:

  1. I agree, everyone should have to right to choose. Hopefully her family will find some solace in this change in law.