A lot has happened in the world in the past week or so, and I’ve been pretty slow on the uptake. Strangely enough, a lot of the newsworthy items lately have been ones on which I have an opinion—which, honestly, is kind of strange. Sure, the ABC Evening News at my house can seem like MST3K, even though I watch it alone… but most of it isn’t worth blogging about, IMO.
So, in this marathon blog post, I plan to address Terri Schiavo, Pope John Paul II, and Peter Jennings. Perhaps some other things as they occur to me. Feel free to ignore this post if you’re sick of hearing about any or all of these topics; I won’t know any different, so I won’t be offended.
On Terri Schiavo:
I know this is so last week’s news, but I didn’t get a chance to say what I wanted to say about it before The Pope decided to kick it (no disrespect to His Popeness).
The day Terri finally died, someone in my cube farm at work said it aloud, to no one in particular: “Terri Schiavo died.”
Another person in the cube next to mine said, “That’s sad.”
I thought the whole scenario was sad, but probably in a different way than she meant. Mainly, though, I was relieved.
I remember what it was like watching my grandmother slowly waste away of lung cancer. When she first got the diagnosis, we were all optimistic. Then, as months drew on, she moved from her apartment back into a nursing home, then into the hospital, all without the hope of ever gaining back her previous freedoms. I went to visit her every time I could, and watched her slowly turn from my feisty Memaw with a naughty sense of humor into this frail waif with wispy white hair. Her mind went, too—and after a while, I mourned my Memaw, even while she was still alive.
After nine months of battling cancer, when she finally died, I was more relieved than saddened. After all, I’d already grieved the person who used to be my grandmother. She wasn’t really there anymore. I was glad that her body was finally done, and that I and my family could start to put the whole incident behind us. Not that I want to ever forget my Memaw, who she was and what she did in her life; I just wanted to stop the lingering death, so I could remember her as she was, not as this fragile skeleton with a fractured memory.
That must be what it was like for Michael Schiavo. The person who had been his wife was gone, and had been gone for 15 years. I’d imagine his mourning was done back when it hit him that his wife was indeed in a persistent vegetative state, and would never come back to him. Legal battles notwithstanding, this must be a tremendous relief for him.
One of the arguments at the office revolved around Terri’s parents, and how they weren’t able to be at their daughter’s deathbed. It may seem harsh, but I can understand where Michael was coming from. He wanted to be with her. And, don’t quote me on this, but I believe that he’d arranged things so that he would never be in the room with Terri’s parents at the same time—legal or personal preference, I’m not sure, and I’m not inclined to go searching for those particular facts right this moment.
If I put myself in that situation—if Aaron were in a persistent vegetative state, and I’d finally come to terms with letting him go, but his Dad and brother were insistent on keeping him alive, even though I knew it would have been against Aaron’s wishes; if we had a mighty feud about it, and they hated me, and I hated them; and if I finally won the battle and could let Aaron go, I would want some quiet, personal time alone with my spouse to say goodbye. Having everyone in the room would be a bad situation all around, and wouldn’t afford privacy or solemnity or anything of the sort.
Aaron and I were discussing Terri Schiavo last week, and he made a valid point while playing Devil’s Advocate. I happen to be very much against abortion. That said, how can I be in favor of allowing Terri Schiavo to starve to death? I can definitely see the contradiction there, and it did give me pause for a moment, but I do have a definite answer: Terri had made the choice, if her husband (widower?) is to be believed, that she would not want to live life as a vegetable. An unborn child has no opportunity to voice an opinion either way. Life is all about choices, about making your own, about allowing others to make theirs, about affording the freedom to choose to everyone and honoring the choices they make. But your right to extend your fist ends when you reach my face.
On The Pope:
Through most of my life, adult and otherwise, I really didn’t give a rat’s ass about the Pope. No disrespect to the Pope or to the Catholic Church, but I didn’t grow up Catholic, and I no longer even consider myself a Christian, and I grow weary of hearing all the news about the Catholic Church. I didn’t have anything against the Pope, per se, but I really didn’t care where he was or what he was doing.
Pope John Paul II was relatively old (OK, maybe 58 isn’t that old) when he was appointed back in ’79—back when I was three or four years old. He’s the only Pope I’ve ever known. Up until this past week, I didn’t realize what a sprightly and energetic old guy he used to be. The Pope I knew just rode around in the Popemobile, waving to people, being wheeled around in a throne-wheelchair. I never knew that he could speak so many languages, or that he had such a love for children, or anything about him as a person, really.
In the midst of a spate of cynicism, Aaron asked me if I really cared that the Pope had died. I said yes. I did. He was a good, decent man, and I’m sad when any good person dies. He looked at me like I was just being difficult (and maybe a little dense), and didn’t say anything else about it.
It might be a cheesy sentiment, but it’s true. If I honestly grieved every death I heard about, I’d go certifiably bonkers… but I find it difficult to be completely neutral about anyone’s death. Especially the leader of a world religion. I might think that religion in general is full of shit, but I know that Pope John Paul II was a good man, and served his God as he felt was right, and was one stubborn SOB at the end of his life. I can respect that.
On Peter Jennings:
In case you haven’t heard, the ABC news anchor has lung cancer. That’s rough. He seems to be dealing with it relatively well, from his demeanor on the news this evening, but I’m sure he’s quite the actor in his own way.
I don’t really have an opinion on Peter Jennings’ cancer, I guess. I just wanted to shoot my good vibes his way. And, as always, I want to urge anyone I know who smokes to quit. NOW. Peter Jennings smoked for 20 years, then quit, but had a minor relapse and smoked during 9/11. My grandmother smoked for… shit… probably 40 or 50 years? For god’s sake, people, you’re asking for it. Quit. Now. Please. Your children and grandchildren will thank you.
And so will I.