Sunday, March 20, 2005

Holy Week Murder In Progress

Today is Palm Sunday. For Christians, this begins Holy Week the holiest time of the year which culminates in the Passion of our Lord and Saviour, known as the Christ. As we Christians pray during this special time I ask you to remember Terri Schiavo and her parents who are undergoing their own passion. Their passion story, like that of Jesus, is brought on by a betrayal (by her husband Michael Schiavo) and by an unjust judge named George W. Greer.

The following narrative is from Terri Schiavo's lawyer, Barbara Weller, who was with Terri until shortly before her feeding tube was removed on Friday at 1:45 p.m. Terri has been denied food and water for 48 hours now. For the whole narrative go to Fight4Terri.
At one point, I noticed Terri's window blinds were pulled down. I went to the window to raise them so Terri could look at the beautiful garden outside her window and see the sun after several days of rain. As sunlight came into the room, Terri's eyes widened and she was obviously very pleased. At another point, Suzanne and I told Terri she needed to suck in all the food she could because she might not be getting anything for a few days. During that time, Mary Schindler, Terri's mother, joined us for a bit, and we noticed there were bubbles in Terri's feeding tube. We joked that we didn?t want her to begin burping, and called the nurses to fix the feeding tube, which they did. Terri's mother did not come back into the room. This was a very difficult day for Bob and Mary Schindler. I suspect they were less hopeful all along than I was, having lived through Terri's last two feeding tube removals.

Suzanne and I continued to talk and joke with Terri for probably an hour or more. At one point Suzanne called Terri the bionic woman and I heard Terri laugh out loud heartily for the first time since I have been visiting with her. She laughed so hard that for the first time I noticed the dimples in her cheeks.

The most dramatic event of this visit happened at one point when I was sitting on Terri's bed next to Suzanne. Terri was sitting in her lounge chair and her aunt was standing at the foot of the chair. I stood up and learned over Terri. I took her arms in both of my hands. I said to her, "Terri if you could only say 'I want to live' this whole thing could be over today." I begged her to try very hard to say, 'I want to live.' To my enormous shock and surprise, Terri's eyes opened wide, she looked me square in the face, and with a look of great concentration, she said, "Ahhhhhhh."

Then, seeming to summon up all the strength she had, she virtually screamed, "Waaaaaaaa." She yelled so loudly that Michael Vitadamo, Suzanne's husband, and the female police officer who were then standing together outside Terri's door, clearly heard her.

At that point, Terri had a look of anguish on her face that I had never seen before and she seemed to be struggling hard, but was unable to complete the sentence. She became very frustrated and began to cry. I was horrified that I was obviously causing Terri so much anguish. Suzanne and I began to stroke Terri's face and hair to comfort her. I told Terri I was very sorry. It had not been my intention to upset her so much. Suzanne and I assured Terri that her efforts were much appreciated and that she did not need to try to say anything more. I promised Terri I would tell the world that she had tried to say, 'I want to live.'

Suzanne and I continued to visit and talk with Terri, along with other family members who came and went in the room, until about 2:00 p.m. when we were all told to leave after Judge Greer denied yet another motion for stay and ordered the removal of the feeding tube to proceed. As we left the room, the female police officer outside the door was valiantly attempting to keep from crying.

Just as Terri's husband Michael has told the world he must keep an alleged promise to kill Terri, a promise remembered a million dollars and nearly a decade after the fact; I must keep my promise to Terri immediately. Time is running out for her. I went out to the banks of cameras outside the hospice facility and told the story immediately. Now I must also tell the story in writing for the world to hear. It may be the last effective thing I can do to try to keep Terri alive so she can get the testing, therapy, and rehabilitative help she so desperately needs before it is too late.

About four in the afternoon, several hours after the feeding tube was removed, I returned to Terri's room. By that time she was alone except for a male police officer now standing inside the door. When I entered the room and began to speak to her, Terri started to cry and tried to speak to me immediately. It was one of the most helpless feelings I have ever had. Terri was looking very melancholy at that point and I had the sense she was very upset that we had told her things were going to get better, but instead, they were obviously getting worse. I had previously had the same feeling when my own daughter was a baby who was hospitalized and was crying and looking to me to rescue her from her hospital crib, something I could not do. While I was in the room with Terri for the next half hour or so, several other friends came to visit and I did a few press interviews sitting right next to Terri. I again raised her window shade, which had again been pulled down, so Terri could at least see the garden and the sunshine from her lounge chair. I also turned the radio on in her room before I left so that when she was alone, she would at least have some music for comfort.

Just before I left the room, I leaned over Terri and spoke right into her ear. I told her I was very sorry I had not been able to stop the feeding tube from being taken out and I was very sorry I had to leave her alone. But I reminded her that Jesus would stay right by her side even when no one else was there with her. When I mentioned Jesus? Name, Terri again laughed out loud. She became very agitated and began loudly trying to speak to me again. As Terri continued to laugh and try to speak, I quietly prayed in her ear, kissed her, placed her in Jesus' care, and left the room.

Terri is alone now. As I write this last visit narrative, it is five in the morning of March 19. Terri has been without food and water for nearly 17 hours. I'm sure she is beginning at least to become thirsty, if not hungry. And I am left to wonder how many other people care.

posted by Fight4Terri @ 10:18 AM

3rd Psalm

Yahweh, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are those who rise up against me.
Many there are who say of my soul,
"There is no help for him in God."

But you, Yahweh, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
I cry to Yahweh with my voice,
and he answers me out of his holy hill

I laid myself down and slept.
I awakened; for Yahweh sustains me.
I will not be afraid of tens of thousands of people
who have set themselves against me on every side.

Arise, Yahweh!
Save me, my God!
For you have struck all of my enemies on the cheek bone.
You have broken the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to Yahweh.
Your blessing be on your people.


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