January 28, 1949 – August 31, 2017
“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
– Cornel West
Thank you for your courage. You strove to prevent others from suffering unbearably without choice, as you have had to suffer. You joined the legal challenge to Canada’s assisted dying laws and opened your life to public comment and scrutiny. Despite how you treasured your privacy, you bravely shared the most intimate details of your life in the hopes that your suffering could prevent others from suffering. These are acts of heroism.
Thank you for your strength. Hour after hour, day after day, you worked on the legal challenge amidst severe muscle pain from your Parkinson’s disease, persistent migraine headaches, nausea, vomiting, sleeplessness, and exhaustion. Despite your pain, you never faltered in your conviction to fight unjust laws that deny individuals the final choice over how much suffering they will endure prior to their death.
Thank you for your love. You laboured long and hard on this case with the knowledge that you could not live to see the final outcome. Without any expectation of personal benefit, your choice was born of deep care for the well-being of others – a level of care that your beautiful family and friends know to be emblematic of how you lived your entire life.
Thank you for your example. In choosing to gently let go of life with the assistance of a medical doctor, and limit the amount of suffering you would endure, your death was a final, courageous show of compassion to yourself. With this act of love you gave all of us a final gift: the knowledge that we are all worthy of our own love, and that the circle of compassion includes each of us.
We say goodbye for now, with the promise that we will continue to fight for compassion and choice.
Jay Aubrey for the BC Civil Liberties Association