It occurred to me recently that we’re afraid of it. We like the idea of it. Having a choice. We fight for that right every day. But when we actually are faced with having one? Panic. What do you mean I have to make a decision? On my own? Shock. Horror. Someone tell me what to do!
It’s all over our news coverage. We watch whoever our trusted newscaster is and wait for them to tell us how to feel, what to be angry about today, what celebrity we need to be mocking for poor life choices – there’s that word again.
This phenomenon recently became clear to me in the usual way. On social media. Where the shock and horror that humans would have the right to choose life or death in late stages of illness was being put into place in California. The same people that are appalled by the idea that a women has the right to choose what to do with their own bodies were devastated by this. As if having these laws in play means you HAVE to choose death or you HAVE to choose abortion. Like, if it’s available as a choice you have no other choice but to choose it.
And it hit me. These people have lived their lives with no alternative choices. So all they know is what’s been chosen for them. Their story has already been written.
And as I thought more about it I realized how lucky I am. In my life I’ve only been faced with one thing that wasn’t my own choice. Disability. Everything else I’ve been able to choose on my own. And even then, disability was a choice too. I could either crawl up into a ball and let my disability rule my life, or I could deal with it. I choose the latter, although these days not as much as I used to. In a lot of ways my disability has made choices for me too. I don’t really have a choice in what car I drive – but the fact that I can drive is a bonus. There are a lot of places I can’t go, but that’s a bit of a choice too. The thing is, I get to make those choices.
I also realized I was lucky to grow up in the family I have. Many people would be shocked to hear me say that. But I am. I was never told what religion to choose. What path my life had to take. I made those decisions on my own. My family wasn’t thrilled by my choices. When I tried Christianity for a while they were appalled I’d show up in their Jewish homes with a cross around my neck. When I decided I didn’t want to be any religion they were a bit disappointed I didn’t find Judaism. But I was never disowned or disavowed.
To anyone who is afraid of having a choice, I’ve got good news for you. Just because the alternative choice exists doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to choose it. You don’t want an abortion? News flash – no one actually WANTS an abortion. But having a choice is much better than not having one. You want to choose to stay on life support? Just because there’s a law allowing assisted suicide for terminally ill patients doesn’t mean you are forced to choose that path.
Choice. It’s a gift we need to cherish. We live in a country that has choice in abundance. But just because there’s more than one choice and just because you don’t like one that exists doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be available. You have the right to choose the one that fits you better. Amazing, isn’t it?
I’ve been trying to write this for hours. But I couldn’t find the words to say. Somehow I managed to find them. A lot more than I thought I would.
Today (although let’s be real, this entire year) has been one hell of an emotional roller-coaster. And anyone who knows me knows that I don’t handle emotions well, or most would say, at all.
Last month Bella, my mom’s (and my, let’s be honest) dog had a 1.5 pound tumor removed from her intestines. It was cancerous and there was always a possibility that the cancer was not contained to just that mass. She survived the surgery, came home, got all the love in the world, and was ultimately diagnosed with lymphoma. A blood cancer that makes all lymph nodes swell and is very uncomfortable. We had choices to make. Give her medication to make her feel better but only for a short time or start her on chemotherapy and prolong her life.
After much consultation we went the chemotherapy route. You’re never sure what you’re going to do about a thing until it’s staring you in the face. My policy is and always has been – assure that your pet is not in pain. The difference in the choices here came down to one simple thing. Money. Luckily we were able to choose one route or the other. My heart hurts for those who cannot afford to do so.
Bella had one mild treatment and took it very well. She was happy and her appetite was as it always had been – feed me all the things all the time. Today, as she was meant to be getting her second treatment, she took a turn for the worst. Ultrasounds were taken. More masses were found. Cancer sucks ass and our baby girl has gone wherever it is you go when this ugly disease takes you away.
Bella is and was sweet, loving, funny and fun. She kept my mom company, followed her around as a puppy does, and kept her as sane as possible when life threw fastballs aimed straight at her head. She brought joy into my life constantly. She turned circles when she knew she was getting a treat, turned her head away like any good diva does when they don’t want their picture taken. Her constant affection all the way till the end is what I will cherish most. I am still having trouble believing her dog door isn’t going to flap against its metal casing and she won’t come bounding in here anymore.
This, added to the steady decline of my grandmother’s mind (which I have been coming to terms with for months), the death of people I admire but didn’t know at all (Prince, David Bowie and Glenn Frey. Are you serious??) and the constant barrage of madness in the news (fuck this election) makes me feel at odds with what I’m about to say next.
Today we put a deposit on a 2016 Ford Explorer XLT MXV (the MXV means it has been modified for people with disabilities – like me).
Want to know what that looks like? See the link below.
We lost a beloved pet and I’m beyond sad. I’m getting a vehicle much better suited to my needs and I’m elated. I feel sickened by loss. I imagine all the places I want to go. I just don’t want to go anywhere. This is why I hate emotions.