In what I surmise will be the last Breaking News report on the Terri Schiavo case, it was reported this morning that she passed away just past 9am est. It was a death that took almost two weeks to come by, accompanied by a media frenzy that took on a life of its own.
Now that the clock has stopped ticking on Terri's life, we'll see just how quickly the story dies too. I'm betting an eggtimer would suffice.
Sure, we will get updates on the brief fight that now ensues over the poor woman's remains - who get's what, where and in what form - and we'll hear TV experts dissect her autopsy report for the masses. But before we know it, Terri Schiavo will have joined the ranks of Karen Ann Quinlan - people who have died amidst controversy, but that no one can quite put their fingers on.
There will be fallout for sure. Already, living wills have been downloaded at warp speed and added to people's personal files - a reference manual, of sorts, for our future, that we hope never need be read. That, perhaps, will be the good that comes out of Terri's life. We are now aware of just how ugly things can get if relatives don't agree on your level of doneness. He said she did not want to live this way, they said she did. He said, she said, they said...what did Terri say? Who knows? Better be safe and write it down.
What we will also see, littering our television sets this weekend, is an endless stream of politicians who can now say, "I tried. I voted to save her." And mark my words, we will absolutely hear Terri's name invoked when it's time for re-election. Knowing full well that they did not have any more of a legal leg to stand on than the Schindler's themselves, they held those self righteous, self-serving votes. Sorry people, but there is no philanthropy in politics - there is always an angle and a plan to spin things to one's advantage.
If the politicians really want to enact some form of change - how about this? In a case like Terri's, when a person is diagnosed as compromised to such a degree that recovery is not an option, when the feeding tube is removed, allow it to be quickly followed by a lethal injection. If the net result is to be death, then for the sake of all involved, don't make it drag out two to three weeks until the body literally starves to death. We euthanize animals daily - dogs, cats, elephants who are in pain, seriously injured, unrecoverable - because it is HUMANE. Why can we not extend that HUMANITY to ourselves? Again, if the net objective is death, why should it matter if it is hastened and humane? We should not all feel that a roadtrip to Oregon is our only legal option for a dignified, medically assisted death.
As a mother, my heart goes out to the Schindler's who have been tireless in their campaign. Yet so much of it was on their own behalf. As much as I would never want to let go of one of my children either, I understand they were waging a war against the inevitable - playing a Survivor style game to outwit, outplay, and outlast death. Unfortunately, they could not come to terms with the rules of the game.
Rules that very clearly state the husband is the legal guardian. That, in the end, is what every courtroom foray came down to. Reduced to its very bitter dregs, they may have raised her, but Michael Schiavo was her husband.
What parent could possibly want to swallow that?
As for the supporters around the hospice and around the world, who clung to their Bibles and fervently prayed? Perhaps they should have opened those Bibles and reminded themselves that the Good Book spells it all out as well. "And a man shall leave his mother and cleave to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh." In many other verses, the Bible states that the union of man and wife trumps the parental relationship.
To pick and choose which portions of the Bible you choose to acknowlege, to me, is hypocrisy at its worst.
And to those who cry removing her food tube was "playing God"? By that logic, so was inserting it to begin with. And wouldn't the same apply to any ventilator, heart machine, vaccination or even cough medicine? Any intervention interfering with some "divine plan"? By that definition, we "play God" every single day.
Personally, I choose to look to this anonymous quote, as I also now choose to look away from what should be respected as a very private time of mourning for Terri's family...
"To the unbeliever, death is the end; to the believer, the beginning."
My hope is that the family of Terri Schiavo can look at Terri's death as the beginning of a new journey, not just for Terri, but for themselves as well. Life is for living and they now need to embrace their own.
I believe THAT, if nothing else, is what Terri would have truly wanted.