I should warn you that this is a heartbreaking tale, the kind that makes us wonder how some things in life play out the way they do. It’s the sort of tale that you are going to be thinking about for a while.
At least it sure is for me.
This past Saturday, according to ABC News, 32-year-old, Tim Bowers, was deer hunting in the woods of his home state of Indiana when something went drastically wrong. What was supposed to be a relaxing day afield for the avid outdoorsman took a bad turn when Bowers fell nearly 16 feet from the tree stand he had been hunting in. The fall changed everything.
Bowers, a healthy guy who owned his own transmission business was expecting a baby with his wife, Abbey (who he had just married in August) was paralyzed from the shoulders down. By all accounts, his injuries were so severe that doctors even doubted whether he would ever breath without assistance again.
I know we hear all of the time about the fragile, spider web of thread that separates each and every one of us from a drastically different fate than we had ever imagined, but what happened next should remind us that we’re all a hell of a lot luckier than we care to admit.
An article on Yahoo! notes that once Bowers’ family was by his side in the hospital, and once they fully understood the severity of his sudden condition, they gathered together and recalled that Tim had noted many times in his life that he would never want to exist in the sort of state he now was in.
So his wife and family “made an unusual request of doctors at Fort Wayne’s Lutheran Hospital: Could Bowers be brought out of sedation and told of his condition so he could decide for himself whether he wanted to live or die?”
Imagine the enormity of that for a moment.
Ponder just how difficult that must have been for everyone involved.
The doctors agreed with the request, an uncommon one since most of the time, patients like Tim who are on life support are unable to speak for themselves. And most of the time, then, it is the family who decides the fate of the patient.
Tim Bowers was brought out of sedation and informed of his condition. ABC News points out that he was told that he would never be able to hold his baby, and that he might very well spend the rest of his life in a care facility.
Then they gave the man the very rare opportunity to choose his own path.
“We just asked him, ‘Do you want this?’ And he shook his head emphatically no,” his sister, Jenny Shultz, told ABC.
So, with upwards of 75 of his family and friends gathered around his bedside, talking with Tim and singing and praying, doctors removed his breathing tubes. When they attempted to see if he wanted them back in, he refused diligently.
Tim Bowers died on Sunday afternoon, according to Yahoo!, a day after his fateful fall, surrounded by the people who loved him. His is a tale of almost unspeakable woe, that much is hard to argue. Yet, beyond the initial sadness anyone would naturally feel for the loss of a young guy robbed of so much living, the questions that have emerged in the wake of Tim’s final days have gravitated back and forth, between people who question whether this man even really understood the gravity of what he was doing, and people who believe he was a man choosing to exit this world with his dignity intact.
I can understand the questions, insofar as what happened was so tragic and sudden that it might seem like it would take both a person and their family a bit of time to sort things out, to decide what comes next.
However, I have to say, given Tim’s previous outspoken opinions about what he would want should his fate ever land him where it eventually did, I seriously believe that this is the story of a guy who wanted to unburden his wife and his unborn child from the heaviest kinds of burdens he could possibly imagine.
Even if it meant that he would have to walk off the stage in the middle of the play, at the least convenient time anyone could ever imagine.
There can be no decision more grievous or harrowing for a man than the one to end his own life when a first born child is nearly here. To make it, I suppose it could be argued, a person would need to more certain of the future than even seems possible. He would need to actually see the future, in a way that most of us simply cannot. And he would need to conclude down deep in his bones, his useless bones, that a child’s world without him could somehow be a better one than were he to stick around for the sake of sticking around..
From the time we are born, we are programmed to flee from the very notion of death. The mere mention of it makes us uneasy, apprehensive.
It scares us like nothing else.
Dying is the last complete mystery and we don’t appreciate mystery. Yet, who knows, maybe there comes a time when death is as welcome as a warm ray of sunshine?
Maybe, just maybe, there comes a moment in the history of a lifetime, when only the person wearing a particular skin can understand and appreciate what their own death has to offer. Not only for them, but for the ones that they really love, as well.
You know, people toss the words courage and hero around like dollar-store trinkets these days. They’ve lost their shine, they’ve been so worn down. And I’m not necessarily saying that, for a dad-to-be to leave behind a newlywed wife and a baby who will never even know you, in the name of a kind of love and sacrifice deeper than most of us could even comprehend, really adds up to a courageous hero.
But I’m not saying it doesn’t either.
In fact, I’m damn sure not saying that at all.
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
Keep up with Babble.com on Facebook.
More from Serge: