Brittany Maynard died quietly on Saturday, surrounded by her husband and parents after battling a brain tumor for almost a year. One day later, Lauren Hill celebrated the “best day of my life” on a basketball court in front of ten thousand people, knowing her own brain tumor was in the next room of a wide open door she couldn’t close.
Brittany and Lauren never met in this life. Never shared their struggles. fears, defeated dreams or the arms of someone who knew what the other might be feeling…. and desperately praying for. And yet, I’m sure they watched as each became the face of their individual causes and, with much difficulty, stood on the mountains and floors of their respective dreams. Along the way, they touched tens of millions of lives, showed us that living your life is winning the battle, inspired others fighting the same odds and generated dialogue about how to live…and how to die.
People who have never been told they only have one more season to live have offered their opinions about how death should be met. I’ve always taken exception to those who presume to know what they would do in situations so far down in their pockets they can’t reach them. While there are moral and ethical questions that help to guide our lives, to those who have never been there, immeasurable pain and suffering was always somewhere else when we stood on a table and proudly spoke about our beliefs to others. As the saying goes, it’s never scary to die one day. It’s scary to die today. What each of us will do that day remains to be seen.
I’d like to think that my beliefs would guide my decision if I were ever in that awful position, but quite honestly, I don’t know how I would feel. So I don’t judge Brittany’s decision to die on her terms or Lauren to live on hers.
I would rather celebrate the lives of two young women who followed their dreams for as long as life would allow. Who told their individual stories with dignity, honesty and a passion to live. Though they never met in this life, they came together on a single weekend, holding hands to bridge the days of life and death.
Some would say that was coincidental. Some would say.