me before you

so i bought moyes’ book me before you quite some time ago to read for book challenge by erin (i believe i’d selected it for the book with a pronoun in the title category?) i couldn’t get into it, and so it sat on my bookcase, untouched, for months. every now and then, its red cover would sort of call out to me: look at me! look at me! but i refused.

partly because it’s about a quadriplegic, confined to a wheelchair. partly because it’s a story about a girl who is hired to care for him, and of course, they fall in love. it’s a little too pat for my tastes, to be honest. or maybe i just didn’t want to believe in the possibility of it.
i watched the trailer for it the other day–because i like emilia clarke, and sam claflin reminds me of a young hugh grant. watching the trailer inspired me to pick up the book again. i’m about halfway through. i’d hoped to have the thing finished before watching the movie, but that didn’t happen. i watched it twice yesterday. i’d only intended to see it once–the early bird matinee–and then get some errands and some writing done. i managed all of the errands and some of the writing, but the story’d distracted me… it’s still doing so because i’m sitting here, the next day, writing this post when i should be working on other things. but yesterday… after a long while i gave up and went back to theater and watched it again.
there’s a scene in which claflin’s character, will, is trying to tell clarke’s character, louisa, that were he not in that wheel chair, he would’ve noticed her. but she–and i–know differently. he would’ve been drawn to the leggy blondes whose radars are tuned to sizable expense accounts, and she would’ve been invisible in the corner, serving the drinks.
i’m like louisa in that respect. the men i find attractive… they don’t see me. i can’t blame them. hell, i sometimes have trouble seeing me. 
and i’m a little bit like will, too. no. i’m not in some wheel chair, but i could be… at some point. the older i get the harder it is for my my mind to get my muscles to do what i want them to do. my shoulders are in constant spasms it seems. my hands cramp a lot more frequently now. my legs–they’re just about useless, really. most of that, though, is because i’m a lazy cow who loathes exercise. i’ve been lucky so far. i’ve had good surgeons. i’ve had a mind that’s been able to say screw you, body, i’m doing this. several years ago, when given the opportunity to tour europe for two weeks with my much younger, incredibly athletic cousins, i made myself walk five miles every day for weeks prior to departure in hopes that i could keep up. it still wasn’t enough. we could’ve climbed higher, and much more quickly on the steps of the eiffel tower, for example, were it not for me. i’ve got my dnr. i’m set, assuming my wishes are heeded when that time comes.

there are people, countless others, whose bodies are so much more affected by their disabilities than i am by mine. i wouldn’t dare to presume to tell them them how to live, to judge them for the choices they make.

in the film will tells louisa that while this could be a good life, it’s not the one he wants–for him or for her. that he wakes up every morning wanting it to be over. i know that desire. i know it quite well. 

i don’t want to know what sixty, seventy and eighty are going to look like. i don’t want to know. i pray all the time that god will grant me mercy so that i don’t have to know. i’ve been doing that since i was eight, actually, since i first learned i wasn’t quite right. that said… some of those prayers have been born from mental instability than out of rational thought. most of them have been born of exhaustion and despair.
today, i came across an article in the telegraph that expresses the notions that disabled rights groups are angered by this film, that it is offensive to disabled people. 
for christ’s sake, it’s a damned movie. get the hell off your high horse, people. if a man who is bound to a wheelchair, unable to move pretty much any part of his body and suffering from excruciating, debilitating, persistent pain and discomfort… if he wants to end his life and the option is available to him… so be it.

if he wants to take advantage of the talents and skills that remain in his possession, if he wants to enjoy the abilities and options that are left to him, then so be that, too.

i can identify with louisa’s despair at will’s choice. were i to find myself involved with a man like will, i wouldn’t want to lose him. but i can identify with will’s despair, too. i wouldn’t want the people for whom i care to be burdened.
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Categorized as film

3 comments

  1. I loved reading your perspective. I read the book and loved it, and haven't seen the movie yet. In the book at least, you have Will's point of view, and then you have Louisa researching things to do to make him love life again, and she finds a message board for quadriplegics and their caregivers. They tell her the good and bad in their lives, and a lot of them are super positive and would never go the route Will did. I never felt like the book was saying, "If you're paralyzed your life is no longer worth living!" and like you said, it's fiction, so I thought the outcry against it was a bit unnecessary.

  2. I have yet to read it or see the movie, but I love your perspective of the story. I can't say I won't see it, but in truth I am tired of pretty, flowery love stories where the guys swears up and down he would have noticed the wall flower… It seems I am right there with you, he wouldn't notice me either.

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