Brittany Maynard and Dan Diaz celerated their first two Christmases together joyfully. Tragically, they never got to see a third as she passed away this fall.
Having become the face of the controversial right-to-die movement, Brittany Maynard ended her life at age 29 with medication prescribed by a doctor.
Maynard had terminal brain cancer and moved to Oregon with her mother, stepfather and husband last June to gain access to the state's Death with Dignity Act.
That law, which is extremely polarizing, allows terminally ill people meeting specific criteria to take fatal doses of barbiturates prescribed to them by a doctor.
In October, she launched a video campaign with Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy organization, to fight for national access to such laws.
"There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die," she said then, less than a month before she passed away voluntarily. "I want to live."
"I wish there was a cure for my disease but there's not," she added, lamenting her condition. "My glioblastoma is going to kill me and that's out of my control."
"I've discussed with many experts how I would die from it and it's a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying."
Husband Diaz and Brittany's mother, Debbie Ziegler, shared her feelings and memories about her daughter's medical journey and decision to die with dignity.
"What made Brittany the bravest and most intelligent woman I've ever known," she wrote of her late daughter, is what drove her to this difficult choice.
"This ability to decide to live, to decide to notice beauty, to decide to be the most that she could be and then go before everything that made her who she was – was diminished."
Maynard, who loved the outdoors, even took a walk through the woods with her friends and family on the very day she ended her own life, Ziegler recalls.
"She marveled at nature's beauty as a group of friends and family wandered through trees that were over a hundred years old," she writes, poignantly.
"We switched places by her side, rotating in and out, everyone longing to be close to her. My sweet girl, on the razor's edge of death, took in the beauty of the day."
"We all make a choice daily, 'Smile that it happened, or be sad that it has ended,'" Diaz wrote of his late wife. "I try to focus on remembering her and smile."
Diaz carries Maynard's driver's license in his wallet, right above his.
"Whenever I'm paying for something at the grocery store, I see her picture," he wrote. "I remember her day-to-day smile, her laugh, a conversation."
"She's the woman I love."
Mom mourns her, too.
"I miss her terribly," Ziegler wrote. "I am so proud to have been her mother that my heart is full to bursting. Brittany's ashes lie amongst a grove of trees. She is home."