Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Me Before Yo by Jojo Moyes: Some musings

This isn't really a book review but rather musings on the book that I just finished that left me bawling on the couch so much that my partner came out to see what was wrong. I even went for a bike ride after I stopped crying to try and clear my head. Let me say that I started this book knowing nothing about it, I just thought it looked like another feel-good happy ending book.

If you haven't read the book, go read it now and come back when you are done.

This is the synopsis of the book from Goodreads:

"Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time."

That paragraph does not prepare you for the gut-wrenching-emotional drive that is this book. The plot of this book is more about ones right to choose to live and die then the little love story you think is about to happen. The man in this book, Will, felt that being a quadaplegic and having to live trapped in that body was not a life worth living. He felt if he could not be his old self who traveled the world or had an awesome career or use the bathroom by himself that it just wasn't worth living. The female in this book tries to show him that there are still experiences worth living for but in the end he decides that it is not enough. 

This book made me feel and think about a lot of issues. The first being assisted dying and a persons right to die. I am pro-assisted dying for probably obvious reasons. From my vantage point, I think I understand that at some point your life might end up being so different then what you want out of life that it does not make living enjoyable. I empathized with Will, I think that I would feel the same in that situation. I'm not saying this would be the same for everyone because obviously a lot of people who are quadriplegic find a lot worth living for and still get enjoyment out of life.

One can never be sure until they are in the same situation but when I think about what makes my life worth living: travelling, camping, making art, cooking and eating that delicious food, hugging, cuddling, biking, being with my friends, none of them would be possible with the body he was in. He was in close to continuous pain and was often hospitalized for illnesses and while he very much enjoyed some aspects of his life, he did not find it enough to continue on. I believe strongly in quality of life over quantity and living just for the sake of being able to say you lived one more day does not seem worth it to me.  I realize this contradicts my last post where I said I need to start accepting more the body I have and things I am able to do and stop comparing myself to the old-me. I think that is still valid up to the point where the old-you is so completely foreign to the new-you that you don't see any point in living.

This book brought to the forefront my greatest fear: that I am going to get a lung transplant and then have to spend the rest of my life in and out of the hospital, continuously fighting infections and not being able to live my life outside of the medical bubble I will be forced to live in. That is not any quality of life to me. I would rather spend less time living an awesome life than one spent in and out of hospital with illness. That said, I might feel totally different if/when I ever get to that point. 

The other aspect of this book was that it made me feel incredibly guilty for complaining about not being able to travel as much or walk up some flights of stairs without wheezing. There are tons of people who would love to be able to do as much as me. I vowed never to complain about my situation or have days of self-pity again (I wonder how long that will last). I felt like one of those children I mock on youtube who are screaming that they were given the white ipad and not the black one and how their lives are now ruined. Then I thought of one of my friends who told me that the following quote from Perks of  Being a Wallflower has helped her when she was feeling guilty for feeling sad and it really stuck with me.
“I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won't tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn't change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have.”
I guess the best thing to do for everyone is to acknowledge your feelings (because suppressed feelings are rarely healthy), work through the self-pity or general shitty mood but also realize that it probably could be worse. There is a balance that needs to be found somewhere in there.

I think my next read will be something a little more upbeat.

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