Sample Chapter: Choosing the Unavoidable

There was no question in Bonnie’s mind that she was deeply loved.

Ultimately, though, being loved while being miserable was not enough. Bonnie chose to die.

Almost a year after her death, I was walking along a bike trail in Bethesda when I was struck by this thought:  my love, deep as it was, was not enough to make Bonnie want to live. This was a humbling viewpoint, but also reassuring, in the way that leaning against a wall is reassuring. Whatever a wall may be keeping out or keeping in, it is solid, it is a limit. My love for Bonnie could not make her want to live past that Friday night. That night, our love encountered the wall that no love can go over, around or through.

The death that lay ahead for Bonnie was unavoidable. She would have died soon even if she had chosen to cling to her life of love and misery. Still, I believe that choosing death gave Bonnie peace, allowed her to give up her two-year struggle, allowed her to accept her humanity. Certainly, it has given me peace to know that she accepted what no one could change. I had worked for two years to keep her alive, and I’d failed. I had dedicated myself for ten weeks to help her get every possible good day out of her remaining life, and I think I succeeded, with Rebecca’s help. But still, my love for Bonnie could not make her want to live past that Friday night.   

She chose to die. If I love Bonnie completely as she was, then I must accept and love this choice of hers. If I love the Bonnie who chose death, then I must love her choice of death. In a sense, I must choose her death with her.

 

 
 

There’s a wall around your love
that your love can’t get over,
can’t go around.
That good old mossy wall was there
before you came along,
the good old wall named death.
 
I wept before that wall,
pounded it,
roared at it.
And learned that love
can also sit on the grass and lean against that wall
without failure, without blame.
It’s just a wall that’s been there always,
and your love can sit alone on the grass,
lean against that wall
and rest.