Hollywood Lies: I Prefer My Disabled Girlfriend Alive

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Wilfredo Rodriguez-Lopez

After watching the trailer for Me Before You a couple times, and reading a bunch of cliffs notes, it seems like it’s going to be a great movie at first glance. Two people meet, and it’s a little weird because she thinks he hates her, he think she’s a little too out there. She’s young and gorgeous, he’s young and handsome. They both have their whole lives ahead of them. What else could you ask for, right?

After getting to know each other, they grow close and fall in love. He takes her out and she helps him out with whatever he needs. This is pretty much the basics of every love story ever told. So what’s wrong with this picture? Well, at least I see nothing wrong. Oh, wait, he uses a pretty sweet power chair, so he must be incapable of having a loving and normal relationship, because we all know if you use a wheelchair, you can’t offer much to any one you love. So the only reasonable thing to do is kill yourself and leave your money to the one you love so someone else can treat her better than you can. Yeah, that’s probably the best choice. Don’t we all want to fall in love then kill ourselves so someone else can love the person we love better then we can? Yup, that’s what we want.

The last time I heard some ridiculousness like this, someone told me Trump was running for president. The idea that someone who is disabled can’t love or offer someone the moon and back is complete nonsense. I’ve dated my fair share of people, I guess you could say. But no one even comes close to the amazing, smart, gorgeous, strong, highly motivated, red head I have the pleasure of dating, who just so happens to be a wheelchair user. When I think of a relationship, I think of two people who are there for each other through thick and thin, rain or shine, sun or snow, good and bad. It’s a bond with two people who love each other. So just because she spills drinks when she walks with a limp, rides escalators in her wheelchair, and pees the second we walk/roll in a building, that doesn’t mean she’s a burden to me. It also doesn’t mean I should say “Hey babe, you love me right? Okay, so I need you to forget about your life, the job you love, stop fighting for what you believe in, forget about your law degree and multiple other ones you have, and the laws you’ve written to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters with disabilities, and kill yourself for me, because that’ll be better.”

Maybe that’s not what the nondisabled character does in Me Before You, but that is the message it sends. The message is that disabled people are burdens to their nondisabled partners, that it’s better to be dead than disabled, and that it’s okay, and even romantic, for a disabled person to kill themselves and leave all of their money to the nondisabled person that they love so that their lover can live a better life without them in it. That message is crap. My girlfriend is not a burden to me, she’s definitely not better off dead, and although she’s a lawyer that makes more money than me, I would never dream of letting her die and taking her money because I know my life is better with her in it, not her money.

I’ve learned so much, accomplished and done things I thought I’d never do all because my girlfriend pushed me a little, and helped plant the seeds in my head I needed. I’m better today than I was before ever since meeting her. So the idea that a person with a disability has nothing to offer an able bodied person is one of the most outrageous ideas I’ve ever heard. I am who I am because of her. I’m a better person because of my girlfriend, not because she’s a wheelchair user or because I assist her with whatever she needs, but because she brings me up. She makes me want to strive for more than I ever imagined, and she did this all while sitting in a pretty sweet, hot pink wheelchair.