The Pact is essentially about teen suicide and relationships. Now, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is planning on reading it but by the end of the book you are confronted with the question of what you would or wouldn’t do for the one you love, especially if they are in pain, emotional or physical.
I have had some experience watching the one I love in pain. When my husband was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, he experienced significant ‘flares’ which kept him bedridden for days on end, his entire body wracked with pain and barely able to move. Seeing him like that was hard. Really hard.
Visiting my friend Trish in the hospice, unsure whether she was in physical pain or not, but certain she was in a whole world of emotional pain, was hard. Really, really hard.
When the ones we love are in pain, we are too. And being completely powerless to stop the pain of those we love, is simply one of the worst feelings in the world and one of the hardest things I have had to deal with to date.
I remember one morning, after a sleepless night of lying there listening to my husband groan in pain in his sleep every time he tried to move, that I got up feeling a level of despair I had never felt before. How could we go on indefinitely like this? How could he continue to endure this pain? How could I?
And I remember, to my shame, that I found myself wishing that he had been diagnosed with something terminal just so that there would be an end to his pain. I simply could not imagine being able to bear seeing him in this much pain for the next 30-40 years. It was a very low moment and not one I am proud of.
I didn’t want him to not be around, of course, but the intolerable pain levels he was living with were breaking my heart…..and I could do nothing to stop that pain.
That complete despair didn’t last long and I soon found myself so, so grateful that it wasn’t something far worse than rheumatoid arthritis.
Now on the right medication, my husband is nearly back to normal life and for the most part, free of the debilitating flares that he suffered during the first two years after being diagnosed.
Yet, thanks to the book I just read, the question lingers. What would I have done to stop his pain? What wouldn’t I have done, is probably the more accurate question. Although, I don’t know where the line is that I won’t cross. At what level of their pain do we draw that line and say, ‘no, I won’t do that for you, even if it will end your pain’?
I am pro-life and value life above all else.
Pain is a powerful force. And just briefly, I understood the all-encompassing desire to escape it. Whatever it took. Whatever that looked like.
Five years ago, I would have staunchly said I disagree with voluntary euthanasia. Now, today, my answer would be that while I don’t think I quite ‘agree’ with it, I’m a lot closer to understanding the motives behind it.
At my friends bedside, I felt that pull and push of life. We all desperately did not want her to leave us, but the desire to see her free of pain and at peace was palpable in the room. Watching her in pain was just as painful as having to let her go. Her dying was like some sort of macabre universe trade system. Death ended her pain but caused those who loved her, the greatest pain they will ever know.
What would you do for the one you love? Is the desire to stop someone’s pain ever a justification for actions contrary to the accepted norm?