I can’t pretend to know anything about writing. Although I have written a book myself, it isn’t a product of technique . My daughter asked me what the story’s motif was? Dur? I don’t know Kitty. The word ‘organic’ is so overused that I hesitate to include it in my description but it was a natural creation. Although it’s a work of fiction to me it feels very personal; I reread extracts of it and I see myself and my daughters. I think that’s why it’s so hard to write a good book because what is personal to the writer somehow needs to be very personal to the reader.
When I picked up Me Without You and read the blurb I hesitated then put it back on the shelf. I picked it up again and read the first few pages; I was tempted, I liked the feel of it but I replaced it. Did I really want to read about a disabled person at a point in time when I was once again wheelchair bound? I didn’t think so.
A few weeks later I was house bound, sleeping in a hospital bed in the front room unable to climb the stairs. My husband hammered small wooden slats between tree branches and covered them in breadcrumbs to attract the birds. Heavily dosed up on prescription drugs I would spend my days drifting in and out of sleep, watching my birds and my friend squirrel. The kids would come home from school sit in bed with me and recount the day’s events.
Gertrude came home from uni to see me before my operation and in her rucksack was ‘Me Before you’. I do believe that my children and I have this mind connection.
My arms were too weak to hold the book so my husband made a contraption that brought the text to eye level whilst resting on my lap. I would attach one page at a time to it so that it wasn’t too heavy. We called it a ‘swindle’. Get it? Kindle, swindle. Well, it made us laugh.
It was a roller coaster of a read. Louisa, reminded me so much of my daughters and it made me question did I ever undervalue or underestimate them. The relationship she forms with Will is so genuine and full of hope that it’s hard to contemplate Will’s plan to end his life.
Will, knows himself, he clearly understands what he needs to feel his life has value. Existing is not living. He has no wife or children so his conscience isn’t weighted down by responsibility or emotion. Those that argue against the right to die should withhold their opinion unless personally faced with quadriplegia. We are all unique; no one could possibly know whether a person’s choice to end their life is the right or wrong decision.
I’ve had bleak times and dark thoughts. It’s hard to see your life disassembling and feel your body rejecting you. Unlike Will my deterioration is progressive; time is enabling me to adapt and live my life a different way. I’m older, married, I’ve had my children and discovered that writing is a form of pain relief. Will, who I so wanted to live, made a decision. Was it right? Yes…it was right for Will.
I rarely cry but so many times I had to stop reading this novel because my glands hurt and my throat constricted and I felt so much of Will’s frustration and pain; then the next chapter I’d be laughing.
Thinking of how I may deteriorate in front of my family and the impact that could have on their memories of me is painful. When you reach a point where in your mind you cease to be you; that would be difficult to live with.
There is no right or wrong, there is an individual faced with a dilemma; this person is unique, we have no idea what’s going on in their mind. Illness, disability is lonely. No matter how much someone is loved and supported they will have a threshold as to how much they can bare.
If we’re honest most of us can’t wait in a queue, we go frantic when caught in heavy traffic and are confined to our car, we would turn on one another if we were trapped in a lift for a day. Me Without You although funny and romantic authentically relates the reality of quadriplegia and the questions you ask yourself when you know you can’t get better.
Be happy. T.