The other day, I sat with my infant son on my lap on our front porch admiring the leaves changing colors. I realize that he doesn’t understand exactly what I am saying, but I have made a habit of explaining natural seasonal changes. He has now seen winter change to spring, spring change to summer, and summer change to fall. When the leaves started budding, I explained to my tiny infant that the leaves were exactly like him: brand new and vulnerable. The strong branches that weathered our cruel winter would protect them however. When those same buds turned into dark green summer foliage, I explained that this was the most lush the leaves would ever be; in the prime of their lives, vibrant enough for everyone to see.
Fall has always been my favorite season, and I have a hunch that you were happy to have made it to the splendor of autumn. What is it about the slow turning of the leaves that is so beautiful…especially when we know that in fall, death is imminent for the leaves? I tried to explain this to my son.
“Just about everyone loves fall, little bear. Leaves change colors as they slowly wither away, but there is still life there. And the life that is left is absolutely beautiful.”
Despite what you may think, this is not an attempt to get you to change your mind about your choice to die with dignity. You are a smart girl. You have considered all of the options. I have absolutely no idea what I would do given the same odds. I have never been faced with the reality that I was in the fall of my life; that death was imminent; and that any and all attempts to fight would be totally futile. I cannot imagine what it is like to know that at any moment, my beautiful and vibrant life will soon wither away, and fall to the ground. You are supposed to be dark green foliage, after all. You were supposed to start a family with the man you waited twenty-eight years to find. You were supposed to continue to go on adventures and wander your way through this big, beautiful world of ours. Twenty-nine years old is the summer of our lives. I can imagine the small sliver of comfort that little pill would provide, knowing that I can seize my death the way I have seized my life: with full coherency and on my own terms.
What struck me most about your viral video is not only that you were actively trying to start a family, but also the strength of your mother. While I rocked on my front porch the other morning, I hugged my son a little tighter…for your sake…and for her sake. I cannot imagine the disappointment of knowing that you will never get to explain the changing seasons to your baby, or knowing that your mom will have to live the rest of her life without you. With the loss of a child comes desperate sadness; a thirst that can never be quenched; a reality that must be lived out every single day of the rest of the mother’s life. I cannot imagine having the knowledge that I am about to leave the ones I love with a hole that can never be filled. You must know that you will always be missed. I am certain this plagues you the most. I cried freely when I heard your mother say that she was going to take a trip to Machu Picchu and that you would meet her there.
Because, as your mom says, “dammit, I (would) go.” If my son told me that he was soon going to leave this world, but meet me at Machu Picchu, I would move there. I would look for his smile in the rough terrain and listen for his laugh in the wind in the valleys. But something tells me I would always be listening, and I would never hear anything.
You see, my little bear, you, and I were not made for this, our great and beautiful world. Your longing is for something that you cannot explain. You could search in every corner of the world and never find it. What you yearn for is peace that surpasses understanding; a love that is relentless; and splendor that surpasses the beautiful fall foliage of our lives. What I am asking of you is to consider that there is adventure in death, and that God can give you what you are seeking. As I’ve said before, you are a smart girl, so I am sure you’ve considered the option of faith in the unknown. But even I know that trusting God when he seems absent is extremely difficult to do.
Still, I know that God can provide comfort to the ones that you love. He has promised that he is the vine, and that we are the branches, and in him we can produce great fruit. You are in an unusually difficult situation in facing your death, but you’ve been given a unique opportunity to become the branches for your mother and your husband. Both of them will be vulnerable without you with them. All that I ask is that, in these last sixteen days, you entertain the idea that God promises peace amidst great suffering.
I have prayed for miraculous healing from the moment I heard your story. I will continue to pray for a miracle. No matter what happens, know that there is beauty where there is still life.