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Friday, March 25, 2005

Is Her Life Worth Living?

I answered a comment left on my last entry with another comment . . . for the most part.

However, I have to address the idea that Terri's life is worthless. And I would like to address it here, where I know it is more likely to be read.

I do not believe that ANY life is worthless.


Nearly two years ago I married into a wonderful family that has learned this lesson in a very difficult way. I first approached this with trepidation and some sorrow for the "hand" they had been "dealt" in life.

My sister-in-law is my age. She is a very beautiful and wonderful person who never fails to smile. Whenever we visit, I can guarantee that each morning I wake up to find her mulling around the kitchen or living room she will greet my presence with a very animated: "Good Morning!"

It is the best way to wake up.

But, you see, my sister-in-law has the mental level of a toddler. She will never experience love or life as I or my wife have. She will never drive a car, know the joy of having her own family or career, or even be able to live on her own for that matter.

Most of us pity her. We are so glad we are "normal." After all, the worst thing we could possibly imagine is to live with a handicap such as this. Oh, and we would naturally pity her family. "Those poor, poor parents," right?

Wrong. One of the most wonderful people I have ever met is a 26 year-old child. By the standard's applied to Terri, how much "quality" is there in her life? I don't care. To me, her life is filled with worth beyond all possible measure. And my life would be all that much poorer had I never met her.

My uncle-in-law is in his mid-forties. Truthfully, it is a miracle of God that he has lived this long. Nearly every friend he has come to know over the past 20 years has passed on ahead of him, leaving him with a loving family and his Church.

This man has multiple schlerosis (please forgive the spelling) and as long as I know he has been confined to a wheelchair. He has no motor function whatsoever. He lives every minute of his life at the mercy and under the care of others. Until two months ago, he only ate when he was fed. In January, this man was hospitalized and it was feared he would not last the night. Two months later, he lives. Only now he can barely talk and he can only be fed by a tube which delivers to him, "artificially," the means to stay alive.

Of course, he will never recover. But he doesn't complain. He doesn't plead for death. He is a Saint, an Angel, an Inspiration. Living much life Terri-- confined to a wheelchair, unable to move, fed through a tube, finding it difficult to communicate -- he still LIVES!

And while NONE of us would change positions in life with him, for any person that takes a minute to get to know him -- your life will forever be enriched by the experience.

Of course, what is his "quality of life?" "Very little," Judge Greer would say. "Kill him!" screams the attorney Felos.

But I still believe, as I said in my original post on Terri, that there is meaning in his life.

There IS MEANING in the lives of EACH AND EVERY person for which you might shake your head and whisper: "But for the grace of God go I"

There is meaning in the life of Terri, and my uncle, and my sister-in-law. . .

There is more meaning in there lives than mine.

I only pray that one day I might inspire and uplift and love only the way they can. I can only pray.


Blogger mandrill said...

In some ways your sister-in-law is to be envied. she is free from many of the cares and worries that beset "normal" adults. She may never experiece life or love the way we can and do but then she will also never have to deal with all the complications that adulthood brings.
I cannot remember what it was like to see the world through a child's eyes and this saddens me. I won't say I would give up my life as it is now to see the world as she does for just one day but I do envy her innocence. My wife's cousin is in what amounts to the same situation and he is the most fun in the world. Being over 18 (with a mental age of about 6) My wife and he often go to the pub for a quiet drink and her stories of his observations of the so called "adults" in the bar have often reduced me to tears of laughter. Mainly because when he asks her to explain some of the behaviour of adults she finds that she can't. She sees the irrationality of our behaviour and how meaningless it sometimes is. James (her cousin) sees the world in a more literal and logical way because of his "disability" than we ever could.

Its very hard to define the "worth" of a life and its given theologists, philosophers and legalists the world over many years of difficulty (and in the case of lawyers, employment)

Finally we come to your Uncle-in-law. Now I a can only say what I would do (or want done for me) in his situation and in no way should this be seen as an opinion of what should be done. I would have given up. I admire his strength and his refusaly to give in to what is an extremely debilitating disease. You're right he is a saint (though hopefully not an angel for a long time to come). I envy him too but for entirely different reasons. I envy his character, strength and (lets face it) sheer stubborness in the face of extreme adversity.

There you have it. There is the quality and worth in lives like these. Though I don't pretend to understand all the complexities of the Schiavo case (or have any hope of knowing Terri's opinion on the matter) I can only be dismayed at what has turned into a media circus and publicity machine at the expense of one so severely disabled. Surely these matters should not be in the public domain and the parties involved would be far better off dealing with the matter in private.
Seeing news footage (however skewed) of the crowd outside Terri's hospice I cannot fail to notice that there are alot of people who are just there to get on T.V. and alot of people who are plainly cranks. No doubt there are well-meaning and truly concerned souls there but they don't make good television so their voices are not heard. The reasonable is lost among the eccentric and downright nutty. The media circus should end, its distasteful.

(I seem to have rambled quite alot in this comment and for that you have my apologies but I got a flow going, you know how that can happen?)

Yrs in peace

3/25/2005 4:15 AM  
Blogger mandrill said...

I've just read over my last comment and realised its extremely long. feel free to delete it (I'll post a copy on my blog) if you feel its too much.


3/25/2005 4:19 AM  
Blogger Moonlighting in Misery said...

Absolutely not! I welcome any and all comments.

3/25/2005 1:36 PM  
Blogger Moonlighting in Misery said...

Your chance for a plug, mandrill:

What is your blog? I'd like to visit it.

3/25/2005 1:39 PM  
Blogger mandrill said...

My blog is:

I wouldn't say there was anything all that interesting on it. but feel fre to have a read :)

3/27/2005 8:16 AM  

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