Sometimes you sit and watch a major event like the Terri Schiavo case and it seems so big, so dramatic and so alien that you forget that your own life has passed the same way.
My father had a massive cerebral hemmorhage in December, 1995 (also in Florida). He’d developed a severe headache and before the paramedics arrived he was essentially brain dead. By the time the family assembled by his bedside the next day, he was on a respirator. The doctors told us there was no brain activity whatsoever. They asked us what we wanted to do.
My mother tends to be old school. She saw her husband before her on the hospital bed. He appeared alive. She could not imagine life without him after over forty years of marriage. I know she struggled with what to do. But we, his sons all agreed that there was no point in continuing his life with a shell of a body all that remained. I think we knew that my dad himself wouldn’t have wanted to be kept alive artificially. To what end?
We decided to pull the plug. We each lined up to pay our respects. It was hard to look at my dad in that state. I decided to kiss him on the cheek. This too was odd since my father was not a physically demonstrative person. While I kissed him because I knew I couldn’t kiss him while he was alive I also felt cheated that I couldn’t kiss him until he was essentially dead. Isn’t it strange the thoughts that race through one’s head at moments like this?
They removed the respirator. My father’s strong heart slowed until it finally stopped completely. He was gone. Of course, given this was a hospital the monitors began emitting terribly annoying siren sounds which the staff took entirely too long to turn off. But once they had the whole ordeal was over. My dad had died quickly and in tranquility.
Why can’t Terri Schiavo do the same?
It’s so peculiar to me that it’s taken all this time watching the headlines and the circus before I realized that I’d gone through a mild form of the ordeal facing the Schiavo family (though my ordeal was thankfully minus the morality circus surrounding poor Terri).