Normally if you ask me about current events, I’ll have no idea. I really hate the news because most of the time it bad. Horrible people doing horrible things to each other.
But I’ve been following Terri Schiavo’s case for a while now. If you don’t know, the short of it is that Terri had a heart attack 15 years ago, during which her brain was deprived of oxygen for a number of minutes resulting in massive brain damage. Most of the doctors agree that the damage to her brain is so severe that even though she does respond to some stimuli, that she is in a permanent vegatative state, never to recover beyond that of about an eleven month old. After a period of time, Terri’s husband said that while no living will existed Terri had expressed a desire not to be hooked up to tubes and machines indefinately. So he decided, after what I’m sure was a long period of serious deep thinking and probably a considerable amount of prayer, to have the machines turned off and let her pass away.
Terri’s parents don’t agree. So, for many years now, they have been fighting. Terri’s husband wants to let her go. Terri’s parents refuse to admit she is beyond help. There has been a considerable amount of legal tug-o-war in this. Terri’s feeding tube has been removed and replaced a number of times.
A little over two years ago, my mother was brought home from the hospital. The cancer had spread, and a complication of the cancer and another surgery’s healing left her unable to pass food completely and consistantly. They had gambled to stop the cancer treatment to let the other surgery heal, and the cancer took that opportunity to spread into the lymph nodes. There was nothing more medical science could do. She came home to pass away surrounded by her family. In the end, I hope she was aware of us and our love for her, but unaware of the pain of the cancer and death.
If anyone were to ask me if I had ever seen someone starve to death, the answer would be ‘yes’. If they were to ask if I would have preferred her to live unconscious for 15 years unable to communicate with anyone, trapped in a body she couldn’t control… the answer is ‘no’.
My mother is going to miss my wedding, and every other important day of the rest of my life. But sometimes in life, you have to be willing to let go when its better for the other person.