Monday, April 25

A Wave of Emotions for "Me Before You"

The nice thing about reading books is that it allows you to feel all kinds of emotions in just one sitting. One minute, you would be smiling after reading a very good line that you’d end up closing the book and staring at the wall as you give your silly smile. (Sometimes, this will make you think that you suddenly became a crazy reader). Then the next minute, it will catch you off guard as you discover that what you actually read was different from what you had imagined or expected. Afterwards, the same book would break your heart. You would find yourself refusing to believe what you just read and probably blame the author for giving you an ending that is so difficult to accept. These are all my feelings as I read the 2012 best-selling book of Jojo Moyes, Me Before You.

The book that accompanied me in my Agusan-Surigao trip.

The book is about Will Traynor and Louissa Clark who both came from different worlds and have opposite personalities. Will is a young, rich and adventurous bachelor who has everything anyone could ask for in this life – money, love, relationships – until one day, he had an accident. Louisa is a 27-year-old girl who has no idea on what to do with her life. As described by the author, she was quite a boring lady living a boring life. That changed when he met Will who was 35-years-old by that time and was already a quadriplegic because of the accident. Will hated his life and he wanted it to end. Louissa’s job was to try to convince him that there are so much more to life and that there was love all around. The story revolved around their adventures together, frustrations in life, love for each other and eventually, the pain of losing someone you love.

I was so hopeful when I started reading the book. I actually believed that they would get a happy ending, but Jojo Moyes broke my heart when Louisa failed in convincing Will not to go to Dignitas.  [Dignitas is a Swiss group helping those with terminal illness and severe physical and mental illnesses to die, assisted by qualified doctors and nurses.] I hated how Will was so selfish by not taking into consideration how the people around him would feel once he dies. It is as if he had no regard to the people who love him and care for him.

However, as I try to reflect on the story, I started to see a different perspective. In this life, we don’t get to choose for someone. All we need to do is to respect their choices. As to Will’s story, there was no cure for his condition and he would remain the same quadriplegic for the next ten, twenty, thirty or forty years -- unable to walk, to eat by himself, to go on trips and adventures, to have sex, or to do normal things that others are capable of. There was no hope for him, even after everyone (especially Louisa) did everything to show him that life is worth living for. The struggle was: How would his family, friends and Louisa accept the fact that he wanted to die? This is why the author’s question to the readers was: “What would you do if making your loved one happy also means breaking your heart?”

Me Before You is a heart-breaking novel that focuses not only on the love story of the main characters but also into the reality that life can be so harsh that it would make one give up on it. Up to this very moment, I still could not accept the fact that Will died. I just can’t. Nevertheless, I can say that I still love this absolutely tear-jerking book. At least Jojo Moyes showed the readers that even when our loved one decided to leave us, it doesn’t mean that we have to be miserable. We can have moments of mourning but we also owe it to ourselves to have moments of moving on, letting go and finding another chance to be happy.

My most favorite part of the book was Will's letter to Louisa. This is also, probably, the saddest part of Me Before You.



“You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

“All I can say is that you make me... you make me into someone I couldn't even imagine. You make me happy, even when you're awful. I would rather be with you - even the you that you seem to think is diminished - than with anyone else in the world.”

“'Hey Clark', he said.'Tell me something good'. I stared out of the window at the bright-blue Swiss sky and I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn't have met, and who didn't like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other. And I told him of the adventures they had, the places they had gone, and the things I had seen that I had never expected to. I conjured for him electric skies and iridescent seas and evenings full of laughter and silly jokes. I drew a world for him, a world far from a Swiss industrial estate, a world in which he was still somehow the person he had wanted to be. I drew the world he had created for me, full of wonder and possibility.”

“I realized I was afraid of living without him. How is it you have the right to destroy my life, I wanted to demand of him, but I’m not allowed a say in yours?But I had promised.”

“I thought, briefly, that I would never feel as intensely connected to the world, to another human being, as I did at that moment.” 

"Sometimes , Clark, you are pretty much the only thing that makes me want to get up in the morning."

“I worked out what would make me happy, and I worked out what I wanted to do, and I trained myself to do the job that would make those two things happen.”

“You're going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. It always does feel strange to be knocked out of your comfort zone but I hope you feel exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don't settle. Just live well. Just live.” 

“Everything takes time... and that's something that your generation find it a lot harder to adjust to. You have all grown up expecting things to go your way almost instantaneously. You all expect to live the lives you chose. Especially a successful young man like yourself. But it takes time.” 

“I loved the sensual pleasures of being outside, the smell of it, the feel of the earth under my fingers, the satisfaction of seeing things living, glowing, captivated by their own temporary beauty.” 

"But I want him to live if he wants to live. If he doesn't, then by forcing him to carry on, you, me - no matter how much we love him - we become just another shitty bunch of people taking away his choices.” 

“I kissed him and let my lips rest against his so that our breath mingled and the tears from my eyes became salt on his skin, and I told myself that, somewhere, tiny particles of him would become tiny particles of me, ingested, swallowed, alive, perpetual.” 

“I needed to tell him, silently, that things might change, grow, or fail, but that life did go on. That we were all part of some great cycle, some pattern that it was only God’s purpose to understand.”

“"I'm not going to try and change you mind."
"If you're here, you accept it's my choice. This is the first thing I've been in control of since the accident."
"I know."
And there it was. He knew it, and I knew it. There was nothing left for me to do. Do you know how hard it is to say nothing? When every atom of you strains to do the opposite? I just tried to be, tried to absorb the man I loved through osmosis, tried to imprint what I had left of him on myself. I did not speak...”

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