I have just finished ‘Me before you‘ in 7 days, starting from the wee hour of one day I couldn’t sleep, up till this morning. The book has partially taken a toll on me physically – for everyday reading on the glaring screen of iPechie, in contrast of the night darkness, my eyes have tensed up quite a bit; and emotionally – for being sad yet profoundly happy, being in the lives of Will and Lou.
This is a love story, but fundamentally it’s nothing short of a honest look at humanity. It faces an itching issue that spells out ‘the right to die’. The story places Will and Lou – 2 people who lead two absolutely different lives, having nothing in common at the centre of the story. As cliche as it can be, they fall in love. And they face Will’s determination to self-terminate his life.
The story is so compelling that it kept me occupied for the whole week. I would spend hours and hours every night going through each and every pages, not really reading words but watching Will and Lou living (or counting) their days. I wanted to read quickly as I was eager to find out how it would end, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to end too fast. It was as if I’ve given my favourite meal after being starved for a while, I can finish the whole thing in one shot but after that I would be depressed realising it’s gone too soon.
I can’t express how overwhelmed I felt after finishing the book. It was the sadness that Will and Lou couldn’t be together. But I was happy that Will didn’t have to suffer from all his sickness, infection and frustration anymore. He has died hopefully a happy death in the presence of his family and the girl with whom he had spent the best 6 months of his life with. It makes all his determination and efforts to fight for an eternal sleep worthwhile. I’m happy for him that way.
Beyond the story, what keeps coming back to me is thought about ‘the right to die’.
Years ago, when one of my ex-colleague told me she was lobbying for a ban on death penalty, I thought that was absolutely impossible. How can you forgive such people who kill others, sometimes a lot of others? Or how can you let people who has done terrible crimes live? That was absolutely a No, no-brainer in my opinion. Life penalty is necessary, what ever excuses one can come up with. If you kill somebody, you have to die as well. It keeps this world less harmful, toxicated and it teaches people one or two things about not doing evils.
That’s what I firmly believed in years ago.
My perspective has been shifted a little, absurdly from what I have taken away from ‘Me before You’. No matter how other characters are fighting to keep Will alive, citing his responsibilities (i.e. how can he die, leaving a burden of regrets and depression on his parents) and others responsibilities (i.e. as parents, you can’t agree to let your children die), I strongly believe that it all boils down to a person’s decision on how he/she wants to live his/her life or not live his/hers. That’s said, given all the legal activities that have to be carried out, if one can prove that his/her life is not worth living anymore (e.g. in Will’s case), he or she has the right to terminate his/her life with the aided suicide (ref: Dignitas) with or without support of family and friends. To add, I’m not attempting to address a moral issue in this discussion.
So, provided that a person is given the right to decide his/her own fate. Nobody should be granted an interference to this right. By that, I mean no one else rather than himself/herself can dictate one’s life. I’m talking about people who are believed to carry acts of justice known as judges or law enforcers – they shouldn’t be given the power to terminate anyone’s life. They can enforce punishments based on whatever the set of laws they practice. But who give them the right to ask for someone else’s death. And the people who give the people the right, who are you? And so on.
You get the idea.
To sum up this post, I have 2 points:
- ‘Me Before You’ is one love story that has moved me emotionally. I appreciated every single minute reading it.
- I think death penalty should be abolished. I’m happy to hear counter-arguments if there’s any.