Monday, October 13, 2014

opinions are like assholes, every body's got one

My dad always said, "Opinions are like assholes, every body's got one". May we realize opinions are easily formed in ideal circumstance and so seldom remain when all the tides have gone and changed.
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A whole lot of people are talking about, opinioning (yes, just made that a verb) on, ruminating over the choice of one 28-year-old terminally ill woman, Brittany Maynard. For those of you who have been spared the painful arguments and many articles both criticizing and praising her the gist is this: she has a very aggressive, lethal brain cancer that will kill her regardless of her course of treatment. There are options available to her to attempt (that's an important word) to extend her life span, but those do not come sans side effects.

Some are saying euthanasia, others suicide. Some bravery, others cowardice. No one is walking in her shoes, some close -yes- but, I repeat, no one is walking in her shoes.

At 25, I cannot imagine, cannot even begin to fathom hearing that baby making should stop (because they were trying to conceive when she was diagnosed) because chemotherapy must start. I cannot imagine having the first few scans done and having a curable (though by a narrow margin) cancer progress into a lethal diagnosis.

Similarly, at 25, I couldn't imagine walking around the halls of a memory care unit with my father who resembles more of a skeleton than the man I grew up calling Dad. I couldn't imagine walking down a hall hoping he's still upright and moving instead of expecting his jolly salutations in the home he built. I couldn't imagine my heart dropping every time my phone rings and her name is on the screen, the nerves of saying hello and not knowing what news comes from the other end. I couldn't imagine wishing for death.

Some are saying he's fine, others hope for a cure. Some bravery, others annoyance. No one is walking in my shoes, some close -yes- but, I repeat, no one is walking in my shoes.

Doctors told us he's a ticking time bomb, he'd die within the first year after diagnosis. They offered this medication and that, peddled supplements and iPhone apps, saying we can try and keep this process from moving as fast. No promise of survival because fatal isn't kind to one's life. We tried this and that and all the in between and, he died, that healthy, fun, dad I knew. He died long ago when his work ethic, his humor, his larger than life presence disappeared. And now we're left with this shred of a man, a man that's a ticking time bomb who has ticked two years too long.

Had my dad -the healthy, vivacious man that he was- had the choice, he'd have spared us this suffering. He'd have passed knowing every one of us, telling us goodbye, holding our hands one at a time and looking us in the eye with an awareness of our last words. He'd have passed without sallow cheeks, sunken eyes, skeletal proportions. He'd have told me he loved me just one last time.

Instead we walk a long, ugly road. A road that offers him no peace, no solace, and no reward. A road that's offered us nightmares, that's stolen not just his memory but ours too, that's replaced memories of our healthy, fun-loving dad with the deepest experiences of honest suffering. A road that's stolen his humor, his dignity -every last shred, his passing surrounded by loved ones and replaced it with suffering, confusion, and final moments in a room full of strangers.

Fatal diagnoses. They're suffering in themselves. The choices, the conversations, the preparing one's self. It's terrifying, it's humbling, it's real life shit. So why, in our self-righteousness, must we add our opinions to the mix? Instead let us pray, for Brittany, for my dad. Let us pray for their peace, for their passing, for their families. Because, right now, the last thing a family such as these needs is another person telling them how to do hard things.

“Someone who thinks death is the scariest thing doesn't know a thing about life.” 


  1. A heartbreaking post written with such emotion and truth and pain my friend. Sending you love and prayers - and I couldn't agree more (even though I don't wear those same shoes!) x

  2. I just love this. And I love you. And I love the friendship you have given me. It is a gift that I treasure and I count myself among the luckiest of people to read your words so often. You have understanding when I lack it. You have mercy and kindness when I cannot fathom it. You have love when I am so often filled with rage. You are courageous and admirable in every way. This post is just further proof of that.


  3. Can I second everything Kate has said? You seriously find the words when I have none, and they just fit so perfectly. I think no matter where people are in life, what hurt they are doing through, they can relate to your writing. And YES you are courageous and SO admirable.

  4. You hit the nail on the head so eloquently! Prayers and lack of opinions is the most important thing right now.

  5. I'm praying for you and your family! What people truly need is our love, understanding, and kindness. We all might handle awful situations differently, but we all need to be there to support one another.

  6. Everyone has an opinion, yes, and everyone is entitled to an opinion. What people are NOT entitled to, however, is judging others' choices or saying what they think they would do in that situation. You haven't been there and YOU DON'T KNOW. Beautifully written, as always.

  7. It's one thing to have an opinion, and another thing altogether to shove your opinion down others' throats, presenting it as fact. You are a gorgeous writer, and your dad will remain in my prayers. Keep being amazing and strong and so completely kick-ass.

  8. Oh, Amber. Be still my heart. You, my friend, so honest and raw, have once again perfected my position on Brittany's situation. It's true, no one walks that walk like she does and wouldn't even know where to begin if they had. My heart breaks for you and your family in watching the man you grew up calling dad fade further and further away each day. Watching a loved one suffer through the effects of cancer was bad enough, but he knew who I was. I just couldn't fathom the struggles y'all are going through, and to do it with such grace and humor as you have with your family, it's saint status. It's inspiring. It's hopeful. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, sweet girl. And I continually pray for you and your family.

  9. Amber, so many of your recent posts have brought tears to my eyes. You know how this topic resonates with's horrible to watch someone you love, who loves you, become a shell of themselves--disappearing from our world even as their physical body still inhabits it. I hadn't heard of Brittany Maynard's case but you're right; it's not on us to judge. No one can fully comprehend a situation until they have lived it. Sending you love and strength, though I know you already have plenty of both.

  10. I think of you often - especially after these posts. The beautifully written posts about the not-so-pretty things in life. It's a hauntingly beautiful reminder that our lives are too precious to dictate, especially those of others, the sufferers, the clinging to hopers. I carry you in my heart after I read these posts, I carry you dearly.

  11. Make me cry. Preach it, sister. I'm so proud of you for writing this. When I saw you tweet about this a few days ago, I knew it was going to be a good one. You've got the perfect insight on this. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into that tragic side of the story. Your last paragraph couldn't have said it any better...who are we to tell people how to live their lives? In the end, we're all just trying to do the best we can. Your courage is amazing!

  12. This post brought tears to my eyes that then spilled onto my cheeks because I can feel your pain in your words. I am praying for you, your family and peace.

    Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

    Psalm 18:28 “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

    God bless Amber

  13. This is a beautiful post and I will definitely continue to keep your family in my prayers. Thanks for the honest reminder to not judge other people's decisions.

  14. This post broke my heart. I completely agree with everything in this post although I honestly can't comprehend what you and your family are going through. You're a very strong person to be able to write so honestly and share your story. Sending love and hugs, I admire your strength x

  15. "the last thing a family such as these needs is another person telling them how to do hard things."

    so good amber. i'm gonna use this.

  16. My dad always said that about opinions, too. It's so true--sometimes we open our mouths to share our opinions and are unaware that all that's coming out is a bunch of hurt.

  17. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvOctober 14, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Your strength continues to amaze me. I couldn't agree more that there is bravery in making the right choice for yourself and for your family. No one knows what you have experienced over the past two years. Sending all the hugs.

  18. your ability to be eloquent on things like this, without being rude or judgey, it is a gift. a gift my love. proud of you.

  19. Well said, Amber. Praying for you and your dad and family.

  20. Sending you and your family my prayers. Beautifully written and so true.

  21. oh how i love you and your sweet soul.

  22. thank you for always being the encouragement and the sounding board that i need when i'm almost there but just can't quite pull it together... you're so good at listening through SUCH complicated thought processes and saying okay, amber this is what i got from you and it's SO MUCH clearer. i love you and your friendship to me.

  23. oh thank you. i worry sometimes that i'm coming on or off or all around too strong and that it's going to cause alienation soooooo this just reminds me that i'm not as brash or abrasive as i sometimes worry.

  24. thank you emily! i didn't realize how far kindness goes even if someone else doesn't quite understand my situation or thought process. it's so helpful to know that there is such a wonderful community of people praying for us.

  25. I'm going to quote that EVERYWHERE. "People are entitled to opinions, but not to judgement." GOING. TO. QUOTE. THAT. EVERYWHERE.

    I mean among the other awesome quotes I have from you.

  26. YESSSSS. I don't like ANYTHING shoved down my throat, ESPECIALLY opinions and escargot.

  27. brianna, i know i told you this once or twice already, but the way you're encouraging is something i might never be able to word correctly. you are the kindest soul and God has a way of being SO AFFIRMING through your kind words and honest engagement with my writing. thank you so much for being constant and honest for me.

  28. Oh I worry about that myself all the time. It just makes you real and real is good.

  29. Your heart. Your story. Just so much.

    You're an honest to goodness blessing in my life. Probably I didn't tell you that before. But it is true. Also, I must email you. Tomorrow or Saturday before we leave, I will email. I want to catch up and hear how you are.

  30. SO OFF TOPIC: have you read Brain on Fire? That was one of the first books where there was the "hauntingly beautiful reminder that our lives are too precious to dictate". I mean, like, eery and amazing and, whoa.

    I treasure you.

  31. It was one of those one's that sort of brewed and then all of a sudden exploded into something that NEEDED to be said... I guess that's how it happens for most things right?

    Thank you for always being a voice of "you can do it" for me. I need every last ounce of that. :)

  32. Oh Kristen. Thank you! First, I wrote both of these verses down on notecards for myself because then I have them to remember and look on when things are super stressful and I just need a reminder. :) Second, your heart <3.

  33. I can't imagine having all the stress she has going on (because whether you agree with her choice or not, stressful) and then everyone feels entitled to speak their part on every last shred of her decision making process. It breaks my heart to think that she's taking on dying and difficult conversations with so much judgment and finger pointing.

    Thank you for kind thoughts my dear.

  34. Opinion without judgement is something you're truly adept at. It makes me so thankful to read your words and participate in your conversations. :)

  35. Oh Jess, thank you for feeling alongside us. Empathy is SO hard for us nowadays... Sometimes I think it's because we are so desensitized to suffering... Good for another day and another post... But empathy and kindness are two things that I've come to cherish so dearly in friends and you've got them girl. ;)

  36. You have no clue how much your words and encouragement mean to me. No. Clue.

  37. YES FOR KINDRED SPIRIT DADS! They seem to know so well what's going on... Despite how badly we JUST want to be right ONE TIME. :)

  38. I adore you. And value you. And am so thankful for your presence not only here but in my life (and my email inbox).

  39. proud of you mama z. and proud of your babe. and proud to be your friend. and proud to have you as mine.

  40. thank you abbie. for your sweet words (being called well said or well spoken is my LOVE LANGUAGE) and for your prayers. they're immeasurably wonderful to know about.

  41. xoxo dear lucy. thank you for your sweetness and your ever present prayer.

  42. Oh how I wish I was seeing your face on our trip next week :(

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