Let Her Be With God

A friend said recently that if you truly believe in the soul, then what is happening down in Florida is horrible, for either Terri Schiavo’s soul is already with God while people fight over her body, or it’s trapped here, unable to be with whatever reward you believe awaits her.

It seems that shortly this will all be over.

I just got finished writing a long angry rant about the religious fanatics down in Florida, and the man arrested for offering a reward to murder Michael Schiavo. It serves no purpose. A family will lose a daughter soon, a wife, a niece, a sister, a friend, in body as well as soul. As families do every day, without fanfare, without protest, without the help and hoopla and bloody fundraising potential of a case like this. In the end, the loss is the same, regardless of the number of spectators.

It’s been none of my business as a stranger to the Schindlers and Schiavos what happens one way or another to their daughter and wife. But I cannot say that after watching all of this transpire, I do not feel compassion for their loss, for the inevitable exhalation of grief and terrible relief when any long ordeal or illness ends. Years from now, when we’ve all moved on to another macabre and voyeuristic carnival, they will still be living with that loss, all of them, one way or another. The television cameras will be gone, the lawyers paid and dismissed, the people with crosses and signs and tape on their mouths long dispersed. They’ll still be there.

After mortal trouble

Let me lie still

Where the wind drives and the clouds stream

Over the hill

Where grass’s thousand thirsty mouths

Sup their fill

Of the slow dew and the sharp rain

Of the mantling snow dissolved again

At Heaven’s sweet will.

–A.S. Byatt