I'm Sorry For Brittany Maynard, But She Wasn't "Courageous"
Mary Tyler Moore once said, "Pain nourishes courage. You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you."
I am in pain for Ms. Maynard and her family and friends. I wish to God she had not done what she did to herself.
God only knows if she would have had a miracle and beaten the cancer. It happens.
God only knows if she even just would have had several good years, more than she believed she'd have, with her husband, her friends.
And she's thrown those good possibilities away, for good, now. She gave up, utterly and completely, on God, and on His plan for her. That is the second tragedy, after the loss, no, the throwing away with both hands, of her life.
But unlike liberal Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen believes, Brittany Maynard did not have courage.
I'm so sorry to speak the painfully obvious but it is the truth and it can't be denied because denying it would only encourage others to do as Brittany did and that may get you your fifteen-minutes of fame and lots of Youtube views or Facebook likes, but only until you're gone for good, never, ever, to smile again.
There are many who reject God, especially if He would allow Brittany (or my mother, or millions of other good, wonderful people) to get cancer or other illnesses and to die horrible deaths.
I used to be one of those, so angry at God for years for allowing my Mom to die that most horrible death of cancer. And it was horrible.
Many years later, I realized one reason that made all the sense in the world to me, though it shone a very harsh light on my own terribly weak nature.
God made some great good come of my Mom's passing, and this fact struck me as clear as if He'd spoken to me Himself, one day. Had she been alive still, I would have never gone to the Rachel's Vineyard retreat, would have never gone public about my abortion regret, would never have blogged on these blogs or done the public speaking I've done, and God knows how many women and men would never have benefited from my witness, as so many have told me over the years.
I would have been too afraid, too mortified, of my Mom knowing. It just wouldn't have ever happened.
And I knew, in the depths my soul at that moment of a-ha dawning, that Mom was more than OK about it, in fact, she was reveling in my realization and my peace about it, realizing it was a part of God's plan, though I could not see it for over a decade. And I knew then that she and my lost daughter Erin Madeline were together, rejoicing that the light had finally gone on in my own noggen.
God's plan, I've come to realize, was also to prepare my Mom for her eternity, to make her worth far more to Him, and I know in my heart that is what happened:
As Oswald Chambers wrote, in his book, "My Utmost for His Highest"
It is a snare to imagine that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do; God's purpose is to make us one with Himself...'It can never be God's will that I should be sick.' If it was God's will to bruise His own Son, why should He not bruise you? ...I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God is not after perfecting me to be a specimen in His show-room; He is getting me to the place where He can use me [for a greater good].Whittaker Chambers, in his book "Witness", said it more succinctly, and decades before Mary Tyler Moore:
We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, it may be so in the initial stages; but we do not earn anything by faith, faith brings us into right relationship with God and gives God His opportunity. God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience...in order to get you into contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessings. Your earlier life of faith was narrow and intense, settled around a little sun-spot of experience that had as much of sense as of faith in it, full of light and sweetness; then God withdrew His conscious blessings in order to teach you to walk by faith. You are worth far more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight and thrilling testimony.
"True wisdom comes from the overcoming of suffering and sin. All true wisdom is therefore touched with sadness."
What, and my Mom didn't die with dignity? Just because she didn't choose to avoid the loss of her hair, the pain, the suffering, the crumbling of her insides?
Saying that Brittany Maynard chose to "die with dignity" insults every person who's ever fought to live through cancer or any illness, and lost that fight. It implies that my Mom was less than dignified in her death.
My Mom was in a coma the last month of her life. We were fortunate to be able to afford a night nurse so that Mom could be in her bed at my parents' home then. I'd drive the two-hour trip each weekend that final year to be with her.
In the middle of that Friday night in March, my sister woke me, saying the nurse said to come down--now. Mom's breathing had changed. The nurse knew. We all sat around her bed, the lights on, telling her, through our tears, that we loved her and would always love her and, one of us added lovingly, gently, it was ok to go, that she'd fought long and hard enough. We didn't know if she could hear us, but we told her anyway.
Then, slowly, she opened her eyes, and without a sound, with calmer breathing, she looked distinctly at each one of us kids and Dad, in turn, loving us and saying goodbye to us with her loving, bright eyes. There was no mistaking this. She hadn't wakened for an entire month. Yet this was her goodbye, her last look of love to us. We held her hands, we gazed back into her eyes, then when she had gazed at each one of us, she closed her eyes again. She looked at peace. She breathed one, two, maybe a few more times, then didn't breathe in again.
It's been almost thirty years, and my loss is as great today as it was at that moment.
Don't tell me my Mom died a less-than-dignified death.
The simple sad truth is that Brittany Maynard could not face the pain, the fear, the disfigurement, the awful possibilities of her brain cancer. She is quoted as having said that her choice would be "less terrifying." She wanted to guarantee that the worst of horrible things never happened to her. She could not overcome the suffering, by fighting and living through it with true dignity even unto a natural death. She clearly chose to avoid the pain. She clearly chose not to be brave. She clearly chose not to be courageous.
That is not what God intended for her to do, after all, I believe, when He created her.
And this is not what makes civilizations great, this "having that choice" to do as Brittany Maynard did.
It was what makes us less civilized.
I pray for the soul of Brittany Maynard, and for her loved ones, nonetheless.