Friday, March 25, 2005

A Letter to Mr. Schiavo

I have not been able to formulate any clear thoughts on the Terri Schiavo situation. My overwhelming feelings of anguish and sadness for those involved in this highly personal yet public situation has confounded my thinking and kept me from attempting to express any thoughts here at OC Chronicle. I feel now, on Good Friday, as we recognize the infamous day when all of us stood powerless and witnessed the shattering of all that was known and the birth of a new world view, now I feel ready to say what I want to say:

Dear Mr. Schiavo,

I can imagine these being very difficult times for you as your character is being questioned in so many public arenas. Some people have suggested that you are a cad looking to extricate yourself from a miserable situation so you can finally marry the woman you have started a family with. Some have suggested you are looking to cash-in on the money that was meant for your wife's long term care and re-habilitation. Some have even suggested that you had some hand in Mrs. Schiavo's original injury and would prefer that she go away forever lest she recover and implicate you in some way.

I will not support any of these positions or expound upon the speculation. Nor will I offer any insight as a legal, constitutional, political or medical expert. I am none of these. I am a husband. And I am a father of two little girls. Little girls who will grow up and be the wife of another man some day. I am also a son-in-law. The man who married the daughter of a man, her father. Each of these perspectives force me to finally write this.

Mr. Schiavo: Don't do this. You have won the fight, but you do not have to let Terri die. it is clear now that you hold this power in your hands. You must look within and see that there is no better option for you, your family, for our society than for you to keep Terri alive.

I understand that your position is that you are honoring Terri's wishes. My understanding is that after viewing a news program regarding patients on life-support systems, she remarked to you that she would not like to be kept alive in such a way. this was an intimate, private conversation between a husband and wife. These conversations happen all of the time and they are not unimportant. Our legal system has acknowledged and honored this conversation. As much as some may disagree with this decision, it doesn't matter anymore.

But there are other private conversations that happen that deserve just as much honor. You see, long before she was your wife, or even your girlfriend, she was Mr. Schindler's daughter. There was a time when Terri may have been frightened by a dream, or a shadow, or another person. And Mr. Schindler comforted her and promised her to protect her and not let anything happen to her. We must honor this conversation, too.

Perhaps when he was about to walk Terri down the aisle to hand her over to you as your wife, Mr. Schindler looked at his daughter for a moment. Leaned in and reminded her that he loved her and that he would always be her Dad, no matter what happens. And that she should always come to him for help no matter how difficult her situation may be. This conversation must be honored, too.

Mr. Schiavo, please, think about this. When Terri said to you that she would not want to live by artificial means, what if you had said to her: "If you were not comatose, not on a respirator, only needed a feeding tube to stay alive, did not have any cognitive ability but your mere presence, the look in your eyes, that fact that you were still alive, even in this state brought unending joy to the lives of your mother and father, and they would be anguished and inconsolable if you were to be allowed to die, then what would you want?"

What would she want, Mr. Schiavo? Did you really marry a woman that would want her parents to be destroyed in this way? Is Terri really so selfish as to take away what ever joy she is currently giving her parents merely because she had a passing thought when watching a TV news show? I can't believe it.

Think about it, Mr. Schiavo. Please do not do this. As much as we must honor your position as the husband of this woman, we must also honor the mother and father of this woman. Let them be happy and let Terri live.


More here:
Ann Coulter, biting but correct as usual
Peggy Noonan, brilliant, simply brilliant.
Michelle Malkin, too. Are you noticing women have the best insights on this issue?
Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for the Political angle
Motive and Money questions at American Digest
Captain's Quarters with more legal insights.

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