Every Life Deserves Respect

This week, as I took a plunge into paper-file overhaul and reorganization, I discovered some thoughts I wrote during the battle over the life of Terri Schiavo in 2005.

I remember her eyes.  She couldn’t express her opinion, but to me her eyes cried out, “Please fight for me.”  Some pictures I saw at the time indicated a sparkle of understanding, of love received and love given.  I watched those same eyes glaze over as she was forced to slowly die of starvation.

The shock of it resurrects itself in my heart and digs up memories of my time as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home.

I remember Edith whose body grew rigid in a fetal position.  She couldn’t do anything for herself, and she couldn’t even express her needs or wants.  When she tried to speak, unintelligible sounds garbled out.  Her big, beautiful, brown eyes didn’t always focus, but behind them was a woman who loved and was loved.

One day as I fed Edith her dinner, I noticed an unopened letter on her bedside table.  Who had tossed it there without reading it to her?  Can you imagine her heart dancing with excitement at the thought of someone remembering her with a letter?  Then spinning a nosedive into frustration and depression, unable to reach it or even open it? 

As I opened the letter and read it, another aide passed the doorway and looked at me like I was a crazy alien.  Too often I worry about what others think of me, but at that moment I chose to respect Edith and her precious life.  I continued to read a message from a loving daughter who couldn’t be with her mom.  As I glanced up, Edith’s eyes connected to my innermost soul.  Tears of gratitude spilled over onto the sides of her face.  As she tried to say something, all that would come out was, “Aawawuw…,” No, I didn’t understand her words, but the message behind her eyes still resonates in my heart today.

Edith, just like Terri Schiavo, was a person with feelings, hopes, and dreams.  A person who loved and was loved.  A person who had a purpose in this life no matter how disabled she was.  A person who has every right to be respected.

God has given that right to each of us.  We can read the truth of it in Psalm 8, “What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”   God not only cares for us, but He has crowned us with glory and honor. 

Because of this, it should never come to a battle over whether the Terri Schavios of this world should live or die.  What right do we have to mess with the life God has given?

 How can we fight for those who can’t fight for themselves?

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