Brittany Maynard’s choice to relocate to Portland to end her own life through Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act catapulted the 29-year-old to the forefront of the end-of-life rights debate. After advocating for end-of-life rights through organizations like Compassion & Choices, Maynard ended her life by medicated suicide in November.
Oregon is currently one of only five states allowing euthanasia in certain circumstances. Suffering from terminal brain cancer, Maynard chose to die following a seizure – an occurrence growing increasingly common during the final days of her life.
Beside Brittany throughout her trials and final choice was her husband of two years, Dan Diaz. This week, Diaz opened up about his experiences with Maynard in her final days and the pain he still feels from her loss.
“I have good days and bad days,” Diaz told People Magazine. “But the feeling of loss is always there – particularly in the morning when I first wake up. And at night, when the house is quiet and I’m just there with the dogs. I think about her every day.”
Diaz recalled Maynard’s final day in an interview with “The Meredith Vieira Show.”
“The seizure that morning was a reminder of what she was risking because what was coming next was losing her eyesight, becoming paralyzed and an inability to speak,” Diaz said. “And then she would essentially be trapped in her own body.”
After a walk with her husband and dog, Maynard took the suicidal medication in the presence of her family members on Nov. 1.
“It truly was the most peaceful experience that you could ever hope for when you talk about a person’s passing,” Diaz said. “I carry [her driver license] with me and any time I open my wallet I see her smiling face.”
Maynard’s decision remains rooted in controversy. Her YouTube video pronouncing her decision to end her life garnered over 11 million views, advocating for the right of assisted suicide.
Diaz continues to advocate for Death With Dignity legislation, and remains proud of his wife’s courage. While expressing how deeply he misses her, Diaz recognized that it would be selfish for him to want her to stay and prolong her own suffering.
“She was surrounded by the people she loved, and her passing was peaceful,” Diaz said.
Following the deadly shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School on Friday, the football game scheduled for that night was canceled.
Instead of taking the field, the Marysville Pilchuck (M-P) team huddled in the school district headquarters, to mourn both the victims of the attack and the boy responsible for the shooting. The boy, Jaylen Fryberg, had been a member of the M-P freshman football team.
What no one expected was the arrival of members of the Oak Harbor high school football team – the very opponents M-P was scheduled to play that night.
Clad in their purple jerseys, the Oak Harbor players offered hugs and condolences to the mourning team.
“We just wanted to show our respects and show that Oak Harbor cares,” Josiah Welch, a junior running back/defensive back for Oak Harbor, told The Marysville Globe. “They seemed really grateful. They were all happy that we came.”
But the compassion of the Oak Harbor team went beyond a mere show of solidarity.
The team offered to forfeit that night’s game to M-P. This sacrifice gave the M-P team the No. 1 seed for next week’s Wesco 3A crossover games. According to Oak Harbor head coach Jay Turner, the coaches and players were in 100 percent agreement in forfeiting to M-P.
“That’s the most amazing thing I’ve seen,” said Brandon Carson, M-P coach. “That just shows you what kind of people they are. Those guys have showed it tonight just by coming here and coming to the vigil and visiting us at our team meeting. I can’t put into words what it means for not only high school athletics, but for our team to get through this grieving process.”
Oak Harbor’s sacrifice left a lasting impact on the M-P team and community.
“The fact that they drove here from Oak Harbor, it’s not like you’re driving here from Stanwood or from Arlington — it’s not a fifteen-minute drive. It’s a long ways. That was the classiest move I’ve ever seen in football at any level,” said Corbin Ferry, the M-P senior lineman .
From special cheers to spectators donning the M-P school colors of red and white, the games which took place Friday were filled with support for the mourning team.
“The Western Conference athletic directors feel strongly that it is important to help our students with as much sense of normalcy as possible,” said Robert Polk, Everett School District athletic director. “We do not want tragedy to paralyze us in our daily lives. The victims of this tragedy will be honored at each game across the league.”
As the school will be closed for the week, the M-P team’s upcoming practice and competition schedule remains uncertain. Carson is eager for the team to play at the next game, scheduled for Friday, October 31.
“I think it can rally a community together, especially if you can provide a win and give something the community can feel good about,” Carson said. “Just from a grieving process, it’ll help to get back on a normal schedule and routine.”