Monday, March 31, 2008

It’s Terri’s Day

Dear Terri,

Like most of the world, I met you on my TV screen.

You appeared, silent, wide-eyed, smiling, moving, and living. But I didn’t see you as much as I wanted to, because you were often lost in a jumble of breaking news items, pundits, and politicians. Lots of them.

I kept looking for you.

I kept looking for you because in the entire hubbub, you were what really mattered. Your severe disability didn’t matter, your humanness did. Whether you were supposed to be doing this or that didn’t really matter to me either, your being alive did.

While I was looking for you, I saw other things.

I saw your mom and dad, broken-hearted, desperate, resolute, teaching us what it really means to have hope. Their hope wasn’t found in making your disability go away, it wasn’t even in fighting the many ideological and political battles that threatened to overwhelm them.

Their hope was in loving and caring for you, as good parents will always try to do.

I saw your sister Suzanne. More in the background than your mom and dad, but always, always there. Concerned, devastated, but stalwart, never deserting you or the rest of her family.

I watched your brother, Bobby. Talking to anyone who would listen, reaching out to whoever wished to be supportive. An unassuming man, so very thoughtful, so very kind. I watched as Bobby taught us how to fight the good fight. He fearlessly defended you and all the good that comes from caring deeply for the least among us.

Again, I looked, but now I couldn’t see you on my TV screen any more.

You were gone from us. They had starved and dehydrated you to death.

You had been banished from the loving touch of mom and dad, from Bobby and Suzanne’s hugs.

You died before your time because some people thought you were too disabled to live, or, if you could have talked to us, that you would have told us that you didn’t want to live.

Not so.

You didn’t die because you wanted to.

You didn’t die because your family wanted you to go.

You died because the culture of death decreed that execution could be a loving act; that hubris grants the power to decide who lives and dies.

It is three years today since you succumbed to the mortal wounds inflicted by your enemies.

After these three years I looked again. You are everywhere. You help us soldier on.

There are many others like you. We will fight to protect them.

There are many families like yours. We will gather to support them.

There are many broken hearts. We will lovingly bind them.

There are many other tragic stories. We commit to telling them.

There are many adversaries. We commit to persuading them.

You are gone from our midst, but not our hearts -- not from our thoughts. Not from our hands. Not from our energy. Not from our determination.

Not from our smiles and not from our laughter.

1 comment:

Megan said...

I think you quite eloquently captured how I am sure many of us felt when watching images of Terri on television during the media frenzy surrounding her death. Her lovely smile has stayed with me-- as I hope it has for people on both sides of the euthansia debate.