I was recently advised, by Shelf Life Books, of the publication of the book ‘Cartwheels’ by Amy Doolittle.
Cartwheels offers a glimpse into my world with all its pain, humour and quirky sensibilities. — Amy Doolittle
The book is subtitled ‘The Amy Updates’, which is a reference to the email newsletters that Amy wrote in the last few years of her life. They detail, with poignant honesty, her ongoing struggle with ALS.
Amy and I met at primary school, and were friends for forty years; unsurprisingly, I was on her mailing list. So having previously read the Updates as they arrived in my inbox, reading through them again bore few surprises — until, that is, I arrived at the last page of the book, which details the tragic manner in which the story of Amy’s abbreviated life reached its final conclusion.
Amy was fortunate enough to live in a society that has the resources to care, as best it can, for those who suffer such disabilities. Moreover, she was blessed with family and friends who cared enough to do what they could to help. But this same society is also one that values human life so highly that it cruelly refuses to contemplate the very real needs of someone who has borne enough pain, enough anguish, and wishes to voluntarily leave the vale of tears.
The official book launch of Cartwheels is this coming Thursday, 30 May 2013. The launch publicises the Canadian organisation Dying with Dignity. There are similar organisations across the world lobbying for a change in the way that our society handles end of life issues (a google search led me to a related UK organisation, Dignity in Dying — one that might be more likely to assist me should the need arise).
I believe that such groups are doing invaluable work on behalf of us all. We tend not to think much about death because we don’t want to think about it. But death isn’t something that we can avoid; the best we can hope for is that when the grim reaper arrives it takes us away painlessly; if we want a society that doesn’t actively interfere to prevent that, we ought to take action to ensure that it doesn’t.