Brittany Maynard’s gorgeous smile stares out at me from the People Magazine exclusive which shared with the world that on November 2, yesterday, this courageous woman carried out her decision to end her life with the help of the Death with Dignity Act available in the state of Oregon.
If you are unfamiliar with her story, last spring Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma; a medical conclusion that carried with it a 6-month life expectancy, she was 29.
Twenty-nine. For a moment think back, what was your life at that age?
When I was 29 the divorce from my first husband was finalized. I was a mother to my sweet boy Max. On a whim I enrolled in, and completed, a weeklong Outward Bound course in the Rocky Mountains. I worked for what was then Kinko’s Copies, as a Regional Training Manager. I liked to ski and camp with my son. I had loads of fun friends, we danced, drank and laughed. I was in therapy sorting out my past and grabbing tools to build a future. My life was full. I was happy, young and had a seed of hope that things would only get better. I was healthy. And I was months away from walking into a bar and meeting the love of my life.
In my 30’s, a decade Brittany will not experience, I would have two more healthy children, move from Colorado to California, stay home with my kids, then later begin a career in new home sales. In my 40’s my prosperous career would fall apart in the recession. At 47 I would be inspired to write and publish my first book—a book I had started at 22—become a speaker and create a life that helps people.
And now in the decade of my 50’s—I cannot begin to imagine a fate such as the one that was Brittany Maynard’s. Reading her parting words I can’t help but feel what a gift she was—to her family, her husband, her friends—and by extension, thanks to her generous attitude, all of us.
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,” she wrote on Facebook. “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!”
Pay it forward indeed.
A month ago, after learning about Brittany, I wrote a post called, The Every Day Last Day, in it I mused about Brittany’s decision:
If we have our health we have so much to be grateful for. I for one intend to keep in mind all the incredible things I get to do.
Notice I wrote “get to do.” Life is always filled with “have to’s.” Take those “have to’s” and turn them into “get to’s,” I can only imagine that Brittany Maynard would have loved the opportunity to do anything I might dread on my list.
It’s a paradigm shift. One that recognizes what a privilege it is to be alive and healthy.
Rest in Peace Brittany Maynard. There will be loads of opinions about your personal decision to leave this world on your own terms. I for one am going to simply say thank you for giving us permission to bare witness to your courageous and all too short life.