Monday, March 31, 2008

Why Couldn't We Let God Decide When to Take Her?

As an adult, there have been a few significant moments that, although they did not happen directly to my loved ones, changed me and my worldview forever.

One is 9/11, of course. Another was in 1987 when 18 month-old Jessica McClure fell down an 8" pipe (a well in her back yard) in Midland, TX, and I waited and prayed with the rest the country for 60 hours until she was finally rescued. I held my own baby girl on my lap for most of that gut-wrenching time and grew in my understanding of how deep and strong and mother's love is.

No mom is perfect, especially me, but I believe that 99.9 times out of 100 a mother's love is as pure and selfless as can be experienced between humans. I mean, spouses love their spouses deeply, and may even lay down their lives for the other, but for many, spousal love is not completely unconditional. For instance, if my husband began a second life with someone else, I would divorce him. On the other hand, if my kids hurt and disappointed me, I would not disown them. There's a different aspect to parental love.

Here we are at March 31, 2008. This is the third year since I was reawakened again to the depth and breadth of a mother's love, when for days I watched Terri Schiavo's mother, Mrs. Mary Schindler, beg for her daughter's life. Terri's husband had moved on to a life with another woman and wanted this chapter of his life closed forever. I truly believe this was more about Michael Schiavo than about his concern for Terri. After all, her mother didn't replace Terri with a new daughter. She loved Terri as she was. Schiavo may have loved Terri at one time because she could be his wife, but her parents loved her because she existed.

I have not forgotten Terri. I have not forgotten her mother's pleading for her daughter's life.

I have also not forgotten that the government of my country, the one I have been so proud of for fighting against atrocities from World Wars to recent genocides, allowed Mrs. Schindler's daughter to starve to death. There were some good people who tried to save Terri, but I realized that given just the right set of political circumstances, private citizens could come after my daughter someday, too, and my country could turn its head. Because apparently, our judges have a lot of power.

I don't want to argue the details of the case--deprivation of oxygen, cause unknown; questionable persistent vegetative state; political, self-serving judges; Terri smiling at Mother; no written directives or eyewitness of her alleged request of her husband; hearsay accepted in court; an attorney for Michael Schiavo who hears from the dead; monies received by Schiavo not spent on care; being kept alive artificially--if you consider dependence on food and water artificial life support.

Because for me, the issues that trump all of that debate are 1) There was no plug to pull 2)There was a mother begging for her daughter, "Just let me take care of her; it's not a burden for me ... I love her." She who carried Terri in her own body for 9 months and put Bandaids on every scrape and treated every fever, was practically on her knees begging just to take care of her daughter. If Terri truly couldn't feel pain or be conscious of anything at all, how would it have been so terrible to let her mother have her body to care for? Why couldn't we have let God decide when to take Terri?

Terri passed away March 31, 2005, after over 13 days of being denied food and water. Even animals are euthanized more humanely. Her parents were with her every moment they could be, although they were restricted as she neared death. Another knife in the heart.

My stomach still churns at the memory of this ordeal that, for me, equals the most egregious, heinous sins ever committed against any aborted baby or prisoner of war or defenseless elderly person or mentally/physically incapacitated person. I have the same visceral reaction to the decision as I do to torture.

March 18 until March 31 is how long Terri withered away. Her mother, who would have died a thousand times in Terri's place, finally had to accept that no one heard or cared about her screams for help for her helpless daughter--not even the most powerful country in the world, the defender of the weak and downtrodden. At that point, no one was more weak than Terri; no one was more downtrodden than her mother.

I encourage everyone to pray for Terri's entire family and to support their foundation which strives to keep this nightmare from ever happening again. Finally, put yourself in Mrs. Schindler's shoes for five minutes today. See your daughter's or sons' face in that bed. See yourself begging the world for help, and see yourself watching your child dehydrate. When you feed your child today, see if you can imagine someone then taking that away from her. See if that doesn't move you to remember the Schindlers in prayer today and help fight this battle.

32 comments:

Barbara H. said...

Terri's case absolutely horrified me -- that people couldn't see the difference between letting someone die of natural causes and actively killing them by withholding food. It's still hard to believe it actually happened in this country. It frightening to think of what this means for the future.

Thank you for this reminder. I imagine Terri's mother is still grieving and in some ways always will.

Linda said...

Thanks, Barbara. Thank you for seeing the difference between natural death and starvation.

Susan said...

I know this case impacted so many people. Since it took place right in "my backyard" we really got the media coverage on it for a long time. Thank you for reminding us about the loss this Mother endured and that we need to keep her in our prayers.

Blessings.

:-) Susan

Sincerity said...

That story made me so mad! I couldn't understand why God allowed it. But then God never asked us to understand everything that happens in life... only to trust that what He allows is ultimately for good.

God knew how she would die and who are the ones truly responsible. God says that vengeance belongs to Him. He will deal with those truly guilty. In the meantime, we should keep praying and doing our part to help others who suffer.

Deena said...

I absolutely agree with you. With her mother and father so willing to take over care for her, how could the courts reject their plea? It is frightening to think about, and so disheartening. God, please, turn the hearts of this nation back to You!

The Preacher's Wife said...

I, too, was horrified at all of this. That this man who had moved on, had children with another woman could order the death of his inconvenient wife? The insanity of it all is mind-boggling! One of my favorite sayings is, "you can't legislate the heart". We can't expect anything better from a cold, black heart.

Oh, Christ is our only hope!

~~ Lily ~~ said...

Amen, Linda. Amen.

Martha said...

this story touched me to my core, my niece who has cerebral palsy does not walk, talk or do anything for herself, is on a feeding tube also. When I saw Terri it brought me to tears she looked just like my niece with how she recognized her mother and father. Terri new that was her mama and daddy, I know she did....thank you for remembering, definately prayers going out for Terri's mama.

Mike said...

What disturb me most is how Terri's case became so political. Hope everything well with all parties involved.

Have a great weekend.

Mike
http://somethingaboutparenting.typepad.com/

Melanie said...

I prayed for Terri and I wrote my governor- Jeb Bush. He eventually left it to the courts. My heart broke that this could happen to someone in my own state. I hope it will never happen again.

A Stone Gatherer said...

The lump in my throat is huge right now! Thanks for the reminder!

Queen B said...

Thank you for the reminder.

DidiLyn said...

Wow. I'm just so sad that this story exists for you to write about.
Thank you for doing such a beautiful job and bringing clarity to it. It really is simple, after all, isn't it.

Darnelle said...

Linda,
You, as well as all of the comments, have stated so perfectly how mind boggling the entire situation was. I consider that decision to be one of the blackest marks in our country's history - I'm sure Jesus does, too.
The knot in my stomach reminds me to pray for Terri's Mother today.
Thank You for remembering this family.

samurai said...

______ - no words to say... thank you for helping me remember... and think about such things.

Digging for Pearls said...

If you have a few minutes, I would love your input on my blog in regards to the ten struggles that Christian women face. Thank you!

Muddy said...

Excellent post. Thank you for reminding us to remember and ponder.

Susanne said...

Thanks for the reminder on this anniversary date of her death. It was horrifying to us in Canada also as we watched the horrific events unfolding.

Lynn said...

Thank you for the reminder. I still find it difficult to imagine how this happened in our country. It is a shame and it is very scary to think of how little control we actually have in situations like this. I pray Terri's mother can find peace.

PJ said...

I'm in total agreement. Pulling the plug is one thing; starvation is another. I could not believe the court decision on this one. It seemed so clear to me that Schiavo's motives were so totally selfish. I would like to go with dignity. It's okay to pull the plug when there's really no hope. But I do pray that neither I, nor one of my children ever have to starve to death in this calculated manner. Brings to mind pictures of Hitler's methods of dealing with people who were in his way!

Ann said...

I'm at a loss for words too...it's so heartbreaking. For sure I am praying for that family.

LindaSueBuhl said...

I try to believe the best motives of most people, but in this case I never heard any sincere motivation expressed on the husband's part. I had to make a decision to sign a DNR for a loved one and he had instructed me clearly (with witnesses) that was how he wanted things handled. In this case - too many uncertainties. Thank you for remembering and reminding us. It is so easy to go on with our lives and harden our hearts - staying open to the painful in life helps us stay in touch with the heart of Christ.

annie's eyes said...

I'm crying all over again. I have seen bad calls before, but this was not a decision for a court. God help us. God help Terri's family. So many questions for such a tortuous end...We cannot forget.

Fran said...

Oh Linda..
thank you for the very painful reminder. Praying for her family now. So completely tragic and unnecessary.

Cyndy said...

Thank you Linda for this reminder. It's so easy for things like this to get relagated to the back of our minds after the media frenzy is over.

I prayed for Terri and her family then and I will be praying for her family now.

marina said...

Shh..Linda me to I still love big hair! marina

marina said...

PS. I am bored with my look and need a new make over on my tempalte blogger doesn't give you much,
it's like I need a new hair do or something you know until you get it right ,,you know how us girls are like!!marina

MoodyBlue said...

Linda, tears are flowing down my face. What an excellent post. I will definetly be praying for her family. Still a tragedy 3yrs later & will always be. Very, very sad.

Karen H TX said...

How powerful your words are, that they bring me to tears. I too remember that awful fight. Just let the mom have her, I thought over and over. I will pray for this mother and the foundation so that no one will ever have to go through this kind of torture. Thanks for the reminder.
Your Sister in Christ
Karen

Jodie said...

I remember this case well, but you've gotten me thinking about it in a new way today. I was horrified when it happened, but I never turned it think of it in terms of my own child being starved to death while I begged to be able to care for him/her. It's heart-wrenching. And it's appalling. I hope it never happens again. Thank you for a fresh reminder to pray for her sweet mother.

Robin said...

Thank you Linda. That was a powerful reminder of a tragedy in our nation. Still so unbelievable. Life is so precious. I couldn't believe it when Obama said a couple of days ago that if his daughter made a mistake (referring to sex) he wouldn't want her "punished with a baby". Punished with a baby. I can't even begin to understand this line of thinking. He would instead, I presume, want her to be punished with the guilt of murdering her unborn child. What is happening to us?

Katy said...

thank you for this reminder...and I couldn't agree with you more..it makes me want to cry just thinking about it!!!