Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Life, existence, living. But they are not all the same thing are they. You can exist but it does not necessarily mean you are living. 12 months ago i was existing and now I am living. So what is the difference? For me, existing is breathing and doing the required things to keep me alive i.e. eating and sleeping. Living on the other hand is letting the sun rest on my face when I am sat in the garden, reading that book into the early hours, listening to my music in the car and singing (terribly might I add) whilst driving. It is for me having that glass of wine on a Friday night or that extra slice of cake.

Now don’t get me wrong I do not live some fancy lifestyle where I am jetting of abroad every five minutes; as you have already probably guessed but the difference is these things are my choice. I like reading and I like cake. I like being able to jump into my car and driving to wherever my heart desires.

So what are the options if this choice is taken away from you? Do you have options? Do you have the right to choose whether you live or you die? This is not a new argument but one that has come up in the news time and time again with each side presenting their argument. In the United Kingdom, the law is currently that assisted suicide is illegal and and any family member or friend who partakes in assisted suicide will be prosecuted.

Will had his whole life in front of him. He was handsome, successful and a bit of a daredevil. He loved his life and lived it to the maximum the way he wanted to. Then one unfortunate day his whole life was turned upside down and he went from living to existing. There was no doubt in Will’s mind this was not the life for him and he wanted to die. He wanted to go to Dignitas. In order to do this he needed his parents to help him. The deal was however, to give them six months and if in six months they could not convince him to change his mind they would help him.

Enter Louisa Clark.

Lou was a girl who had never ventured further than a bus ride away in 20 years; who lived at home with her parents and granddad and whose dress sense was unusual to say the least. Lou talked a lot even when there wasn’t much to say and realised that her boyfriend Patrick might not be the guy for her. Lou and Will were worlds apart but for some reason they clicked. Will expanded Lou’s mind and made her challenge herself. Lou was honest with Will and would give as good as she got when they bantered.

Lou then became aware of the plan and how her job was to convince Will to change his mind. To show him that even though his life had changed it could still be amazing. The issue was somewhere between getting stuck in the mud at the races, dancing and getting drunk at a wedding and being a “man who’s been to a concert with a girl in a red dress” they fell in love. So now this was not just a job but trying to keep the man you love alive.

“I took his right hand in mine, and I brought it up close to my chest. ‘I know we can do this, I know it’s not how you would have chosen it, but I know I can make you happy. And all I can say is that you make me…you make me into someone I couldn’t even imagine. You make me happy, even when you’re awful. I would rather be with you – even the you that you seem to think is diminished – than with anyone else in the world.’ I felt his fingers tighten around mine, and it gave me courage.”

So does Lou manage it? Is she the one that can keep Will alive?

The answer is no…not because her love wasn’t enough though or not because Will didn’t love her but because after all of that it was not her decision to make. For Will, the day the accident happened was the day the choices we take for granted were taken away from him and this was the one decision no one could take from him. He loved his life and whilst he did not dispute that he may have had a good life with Lou he knew it was not the life for him.

But after it all happened in true Will fashion he left her with one final message.

“Don’t think of me too often. I don’t want to think of you getting all maudlin. Just live well. Just live.”

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