Thursday, March 31, 2005

Life and How To Live It

I promised myself i wouldn't blog anything about Terri Schiavo, but now that she's died i think i can avoid ranting. To be sure, I was strongly in the right-to-die camp, and i'm relieved that she was finally allowed to pass on. Frankly, I've been horrified by her parents' struggle to keep her heart beating at all costs. I understand the parental will to protect one's children, but their behavior had long since passed irrational and become, imo, cruel. But i also think that the one thing my opinion shares with that of important people like George Bush, Bill Frist, or Tom Delay is that it is not, as my grandpa used to say, worth a tinker's damn.

The reason i want to say something about Mrs. Schiavo is that she and i are the same age. In fact, she was born almost exactly two week before me. The heart failure that lead to her brain damage happened in 1990-- 15 years ago. The difference between 26 and 41 is monumental. For me that time period contains about 90% of everything interesting that's ever happened to me. It constitutes most of my professional career (and by the look of things, probably the best part). It covers all but 3 years of my marriage. It encompasses the lives of both of my sons. Most of the international travel that i've done happened during that period, and i'd estimate i've read about 700 books, listened to thousands of hours of music, seen hundreds of movies, run 3 marathons, and i've gone backpacking in Hawaii, Arizona, Utah, and the mountains of California. In short, despite a fairly conventional and unremarkable life, i've done a fair amount of stuff in 15 years.

It's reasonable to expect that Terri Schiavo would have done at least that much as well. Who knows, she might even have done things far more noteworthy. So in my opinion the tragedy of Mrs. Schiavo is not, depending on your viewpoint, either that she was artificially sustained long after her quality of life had been reduced to nil, or that she was starved to death against her will. To me the tragedy is simply that she missed her life. Even the most medically unlikely rehabilitation or miraculous restoration would not have changed that.

No comments: