Friday, October 2, 2009


"Il y a longtemps que je t'aime" ("I've loved You So Long") and Sophie's Choice are two movies in which a woman has to make an unfathomable choice. *Movie Spoilers* In "Sophie's Choice", a woman in Auschwitz (Meryl Streep) is forced to choose which of her two children will live, and which will die. She begs and begs that the prison guard not force her to make the choice, and the guard tells her that both children will then die if she doesn't choose. She makes a choice, a fast, impulsive choice, and spends the rest of her life tortured by it.

In "I've Loved You So Long", a French movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas, a mother must choose between watching her son die a slow and painful death, or taking matters into her own hands and ending his life for him. In this case the mother is a Physician and believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no way her son's condition will ever improve. He is in constant pain. The mother uses her position as a Physician to obtain enough drugs to overdose her son so that he will die a quick and painless death. The mother serves 15 years in prison for her crime, but never is able to come to terms with what she has done.

My grandfather died when I was in 5th grade. He had owned a farm his whole life, which means he preformed manual labor his whole life. One morning, he woke up and couldn't get out of bed. He was paralyzed, just like that. He was diagnosed with late stage prostate cancer, which had spread throughout his body and bones. He went through chemotherapy, but there was never a chance that he would survive for very long. He went from being on his feet all day, every day to being confined to a hospital bed in his living room. He wanted to commit suicide rather than go on living in pain. He asked my mother to bring him his gun and promised that he would kill himself when he was alone, when none of the kids or grandkids were there. My mother refused. She made that choice, and my grandfather died in a hospital room a few months later.

When I was in high school, my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She was not expected to survive. She had chemotherapy and she survived. She is now 17 years cancer free. Mom has said that if she ever gets cancer again, she will not go through the torture that was chemotherapy. She would rather die than go through that again. She also said that if she knew when cancer and chemo was really like, she would have gotten my grandfather's gun for him 5 years before.
Right after my mother was diagnosed, I was so sure that she was going to die that I made the choice to remove myself from the situation. I was 15, but my boyfriend was 20 and lived with some roommates, so I moved in. I mentally prepared myself for my mother's death and distanced myself from her to avoid the pain. I was not old enough to make such a choice, but I thought I was at the time. That choice that I made put a distance between me and my mother that has never been bridged. Sure, there was more to me leaving home that the cancer. Mom always wanted me to be someone that I wasn't. There were strange rules, and since we were Jehovah's Witnesses, there was all the wackiness that comes with that religion to put a wedge between us. But it was that choice 17 years ago that changed the course of my life.

We make choices everyday, most not as large as the choices above, but every single choice leads us forward (or backwards) in our life. We usually don't know at the time what repercussions our choices will have. I have been thinking about choices that I have made and wondering how I feel about them. I just don't know. I think I feel some regrets, but then again, the choices I made brought me to the place I am today. I have a wonderful husband and daughter. I have a happy marriage and a good relationship with my daughter. I am scared though, about choices that I have yet to make. Ashley is 13, only two years away from where I was when I was forced to make one of my life's biggest decisions. Small choices I make today will lead to and influence the big choices that Ashley will be making in the next few years. It's all a bit overwhelming, really.

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