When Terri Schiavo dies, there's going to be cheering, and I don't understand why. I know there will be cries of exultation because of the commentary I've heard, and the rude jesting, even from as mainstream a production as National Public Radio's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Perhaps people make light of tragedy in self-defense; I know my family was able to find humor even as our father lay dying. There was, however, an enormous difference: our humor was suffused with an undeniable love for the man and a determination to do all we could for him.

Why are we laughing now, and why will we cheer? Terri is someone's daughter. I will not say she is someone's wife, because I don't think Michael Schiavo will be sad to see his wife die. Perhaps he still loves Terri, although his living with another woman, with whom he has two children, tends to provoke doubt. I assume he accepted losing her years ago, and has no more grief left to give at her death. But Terri's parents still love their daughter dearly, and why would anyone exult in another's grief? Perhaps the hard-hearted would say the body Terri's parents treat so tenderly is not really their daughter, and when she dies they will lose nothing they haven't already lost. Even so—when a family's house burns to the ground, and they lose the treasured, irreplaceable pictures of their children, do we cheer? Don't we mourn with them? Is Terri worth less than a photograph?

Some, no doubt, will just be happy the prolonged battle is over, but they will be wrong. All three branches of government have been invited into a personal, private, agonizing medical decision—not to mention the Fourth Estate in all its glory, and voyeristic lay people all over the world. This camel's nose will not easily be shoved out of our tent. For that we should grieve, if nothing else.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 at 8:21 am | Edit
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