This is a really wonderful article describing the events that have led the nation to where it is today in the Terri Schiavo.
I have to say, I am sad for Terri and her family and her husband. I recently lost my grandfather, and while I spent hours upon hours in the hospital during his last moments, I only actually saw the man that I knew for five minutes between doses of morphine. It was hard to watch him die. I was lucky in that I didn’t have to. He passed quietly as I was on a flight home.
Dying is not a pretty, dignified thing. If anyone I love could have died with dignity, it would have been my grandfather. His death simply was not dignified. He was in an intense amount of pain from the spread of cancer. He couldn’t breathe well because he’d smoked for so many years that it was hard for me to picture him without a pack of camels in his shirt pocket and a cigarette burning in the ashtray as he read the paper. When he died.. I was so.. relieved.
It is the strangest feeling and unless you have lived through what I lived through that weekend, I don’t think it’s possible for it to be understood. I was sad and my heart was broken, but at the same time, I was glad it was over. I was so relieved that he wasn’t in pain anymore. I was so glad that he would have a dignified burial and that I could now let go of the person I saw who wasn’t really living in that bed when I went to see him for the last time.
What’s even worse, is that I have never let go of that image of him laying in that bed. I am so glad that I went and I could see him and tell him that I love him during those few moments that he was actually himself. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. I needed to say that to his face one last time, so that I could look into his eyes and know that he knew. That was important for me. At the time, I wished that he could have seen my children one last time, but I’m glad they didn’t go. I don’t want them to remember my grandfather the way I saw him that weekend. I doubt that my grandfather would have wanted it either.
I don’t ever want to live that way. I don’t want to die that way. I pray that I will go quietly in my sleep, as a happy, old woman who is loved by many and remembered by all for being vibrant and completely alive. I do not want to be remembered as someone who laid half-dead in a hospital room. It’s not how I choose to leave this world.
I cannot imagine a husband that would wish this upon his wife, even if he’s moved on with his life, divorced or living with someone else, it doesn’t matter. You still have feelings for the people you have loved, and I certainly couldn’t imagine my husband actually wanting to watch me slowly wither away or be left in a state where I was not even aware that he was there when he came to see me.
Right now though, my prayers are for the Schindlers and the Schiavos. I pray that Terri will pass quietly in her sleep in a dignified way. I hope that she is remembered by the people who love her for who she was. I hope that America remembers her, for the message she has given us these last seven years.
Do not put your family through this horror. Do not pitt your husband against your parents and siblings. Do not leave them wondering about what it is that you wanted, with two completely different interpretations of your desires. Leave them with a living will so that your wishes will be heard and cannot be denied, no matter what your wishes are.
That’s the lesson.