Dear Ms. Maynard,

First, please accept my sympathy for your illness, and my admiration for your courage.

I saw your video on CNN, in which you said that you may delay taking your own life. I cried, ma’am, for your bravery.

I admire your concern for your family, that you don’t want them to be put through the hell of your suffering, of seeing you decline.

And I’m blown away by the care for your husband, that you want him to move on, to have a family. You leave such big footprints!

I’m in a similar situation. I’m dying, and it’s getting nasty. Pain is constant (upper-abdominal and back), and fatigue is ever-present…but I’m too tired to sleep. Sometimes I pass out, which is, frankly, terrifying, because I don’t know where and when it will happen.

I can’t ride in a car without pain, so going anywhere with my wife is a non-starter. I can walk, but it hurts, and it’s become more of a stagger, with a constant tendency to veer off to the left. Kind of funny, that.

Recently added are nausea and vomiting (blood), coughing up blood clots, and…ugh…incontinence.

But one thing I have learned is that there are still things I can do. I can work to encourage people, and to say that even in the darkest times, I can still pass on love and hope. Sometimes I don’t remember my wife’s name, but I can be kind to her.

I can scratch my dogs’ ears. I can’t run with them, but they can sit with me. (They’re all rescues – we have a sanctuary for abused Pits).

And I can hope against the prognosis. I used to build airplanes, and I’m still working on one when I can, to try to reach into a future of health that it’ll take a miracle to reach.

I’ll hope for that miracle.

I won’t presume to know what’s best for you. But I do know this, that your voice of courage, and compassion for your family, has touched millions.

We need that voice, ma’am. We need you, for as long as you can stay.

I need you. I need a hero, and a companion to walk this frightening road.

Please stay, if only for a little while longer.

Yours, with love and respect,

Andrew Budek-Schmeisser