I supposed I would probably marry Patrick, knock out a few kids, live a few streets away from where I had always lived. (2.5)
What a plan for the future, huh? We can already detect a sense of resignation in Lou's choice of words—you don't normally use the phrase "knock out a few kids" when you're actually excited about the prospect of being a parent.
"You were just looking at my photographs. Wondering how awful it must be to live like that and then turn into a cripple." (3.92)
Will had big dreams and ambitions for his future, as most of us do, but they were all stolen from him in an instant. He didn't even have a chance to make peace with that loss. This leads to a great deal of psychological turmoil and, ultimately, to his attempt to end his own life.
"You should be out there, claiming the world as your own, getting in trouble in bars, showing off your strange wardrobe to dodgy men…" (7.92)
As Will grows increasingly fond of Lou, he can't understand why she hems herself in so much. Why has she accepted her fate as a lifelong townie? Why has she kept herself from pursuing her dreams? Why has she given up on her future? Lou doesn't have a good answer for any of these questions.
"We need this time, Louisa. We need this time to give him the idea of there being some possibility." (9.103)
While Lou struggles to redefine her own perception of the future, she's charged with helping Will do the same. That's a tall order. There's no chance for him to make a physical recovery, but he just might be able to change his perspective on life.
I would have to fill those little white rectangles with a lifetime of things that could generate happiness, contentment, satisfaction, and pleasure. (10.123)
Interestingly, Lou doesn't start planning things to do with her life until caring for Will forces her to do so. But how is she supposed to help someone look forward to a bright future when she struggles to do that herself? That's the real question, in our book.
I felt like I was living a life I hadn't had a chance to anticipate. (18.142)
Maybe this isn't a bad thing. Typically, Lou only thinks about the future when she feels anxious about it, but getting thrust into Will's life has forced her to accept things as they come, even when it's difficult.
"Everything takes time, Will. [...] And that's something that your generation finds it a lot harder to adjust to." (18.136)
Mary Rawlinson, a woman Will and Lou meet at the wedding, firmly believes that Will will learn to adapt to his new life if he just gives it time. Two years isn't long enough to recalibrate your dreams and aspirations for the future.
For the first time in my life I tried not to think about the future. I tried to just be, to simply let the evening's sensations travel through me. (23.87)
This is a big step for Lou. She's being mindful of the present rather than ruminating on the darkness of the past or the unknowability of the future. She just is. Although knowing Will has caused her a lot of pain and sadness, it's also totally revolutionized the way she looks at life.
"You have no idea how you're going to feel even six months from now. And I don't want to look at you every day [...] and not...not be able to do what I want with you." (23.163)
After pulling back from Lou's romantic advances, Will explains his reasoning for going through with assisted suicide despite his love for her. She might love him now, he claims, but how will she feel after living with and caring for him after a year? Or two? Or ten? There's no right or wrong way to feel about this, but it's definitely something worth chewing on.
"Who do you think got me to apply to college? Who do you think encouraged me to make something of myself, to travel places, to have ambitions?" (26.23)
Despite the pain he has caused her, Will has transformed Lou's perspective on life, prompting her to finally take steps toward fulfilling her dreams—dreams that had fallen to the curb years ago. That's a beautiful thing. Although it will take time for her to work through the grief of his death, she'll emerge from the other end as a better person.