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March 19, 2006

To bear witness

Topics: Remembering Terri

I had not had in mind to blog about Terri's murder, here during its anniversary. But I have been asked, with other Blogs for Terri writers, to do so.

Whittaker Chambers identified himself as a witness. And many of us, though we did not have first-hand knowledge of Terri's story, found that being a witness from a distance was the best we could do. We prayed, and we watched, and we suffered, through the days of her slow dying, a faint echo of the suffering of her parents.

Perhaps I am not the only one who was told to "move on." We were told to pass by on the other side, to stop talking about it, stop moaning about it, stop looking on. We were reminded, only too truly, that there was nothing we could do. We were even accused of ghoulishness, of a wilful breaking in on the "privacy" of Terri's family, by which, presumably, the accusers meant Michael, since Terri's parents and siblings were eager for the support of watchers like us.

And sometimes, perhaps, we wondered why we were thinking about it so much. We all have lives of our own. There we were, spending our strength in sorrow over a woman we did not personally know, a situation going on somewhere else, and an evil we could not avert. Why suffer? Why think about it? Why bother?

And now, we are being asked to remember, to return and feel an echo of an echo of pain--a recollection of the near-frenzy of unbelieving horror and helpless anger that we felt last year, while she suffered thirst, hour after hour, day after day, while she was slowly and torturously killed to satisfy the malice of one man and a judge's upside-down conception of "justice" and "the rule of law." Why do it? Why look back?

But I say that it is good to remember, as it was good, then, to suffer with Terri and her parents. I do not know what spiritual commerce may be possible. We could hope, then, that we were able by some law of exchange to bear some of their sorrow and pain, to offer something up for them, though we could not know.

Yet even aside from such a hope, it is necessary to tell the truth, to tell it again and again, and not to let it be forgotten. We were, and are, witnesses--we who know that Terri was murdered, that Terri was very much alive, not dead and not dying, until she was deliberately killed, that it is unequivocally wrong to withhold the basic necessities of food and water from the helpless until they die, that this was not a good death. There is value just in saying what we know to be truth, in saying it loudly and unashamedly, even though there will be those who think, for our saying it, that we are kooks and extremists. For if no one speaks the truth, no one will hear it.

So let us not be weary in well-doing and in truth-speaking. Whether there are other results or not--in new legislation, in minds that we know to have been changed--let us still be witnesses.

"And, for success, I ask no more than this,--/To bear unflinching witness to the truth." From James Russell Lowell, "A Glance Behind the Curtain"

Posted by lydia at March 19, 2006 7:26 PM

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We beleive.
We know the truth.
We know our own hearts just as we came to know the hearts of others.
We stood and did not falter.
We have known honor and walked in the footsteps of the honorable.
When we looked to our right and to our left we saw good and honorable people and they could look us in the eye.
We stood in the light.
Our voices were strong and our message worth hearing.
We never walk alone.
We shed our tears while they shed none.
Our signs said "LIFE!", their signs said "DEATH!"
Some of theirs came to us but none of ours joined them.
We prayed for them while they cursed at us.
We gather and remember, they would rather forget.

Posted by: TheLight at March 19, 2006 8:39 PM

"it is necessary to tell the truth"

SO true! Perhaps by keeping this on the front burner of people's minds, when another case comes up, and it will, people will again remember how horrible it is to die with food and drink being withheld from you. Also, they will know how horrible it is for the loving family that wants that person to live, and yet can do nothing about saving their loved one.

Anyone has a right to life; yet, they put a death penalty on a young woman who could not defend herself. How bad would it have been to have let her family keep her and tend to her until she died a natural death? After all, that's ALL they asked!

Posted by: Barbara at March 20, 2006 4:18 PM

"it is necessary to tell the truth"

Perhaps the Schindlers could start by releasing the full, intact and unedited video they possess. Not the carefully selected, edited and labelled bits but the ENTIRE, INTACT and unedited hours and hours of video in their possession.

In the end the Schindlers could not control their daughter (anymore...) but they do control the truth about their daughter.

YOU and I will never see that full and complete, itact and unedited hours and hours of TRUTH.

Because the Schindler family does not want you to know the full, complete, intact and unedited truth.

You and I cannot be trusted with the truth.

The truth might challenge our beleifs.

The truth might allow for an informed debate.

The truth might trap some people and it might set others free.

The truth is a fearful and powerful thing.

I suspect there is a lot of truth in those full, complete, intact and unedited videos.

In the end the Schindler family couldn't control Terri anymore but I suspect the Schindler family will never release the truth.

Posted by: TRUTH at March 20, 2006 8:20 PM

"Anyone has a right to life; yet, they put a death penalty on a young woman who could not defend herself. How bad would it have been to have let her family keep her and tend to her until she died a natural death? After all, that's ALL they asked!

Posted by: Barbara at March 20, 2006 04:18 PM"

Of course Barbara totally ignores what was at the heart of the court case- to determine what it was that Terri would have wanted for herself under such circumstances. The courts determined that Terri had expressed a choice. The evidence was solicited. The testimony was heard and weighed.

The courts enforced Mrs Schiavos expressed choice of what medical treatments she would accept and what medical treatments she would refuse in the circumstance that her condition was unrecoverable.

The courts enforced what Mrs Schiavo wanted. The courts did not concern themselves with what the Schindler family wanted. After all Mrs Schiavo was an adult and was married and had been making her own adult decisions. She didn't revert to childhood.

She didn't forfeit the right to her personal choices.

She had a right to have her expressed choice enforced.

She retained that right even if it was in conflict with her parents, her church, John down the block or the grinch that stole christmas.
How bad would it be? How bad would it be to have her choice ignored? How bad would it be to not be allowed to live and die according to our own choices?

None of us can know what Mrs Schiavo experienced- if anything. But if she experienced a hellish nightmare here on earth that she could never awake from but that she hoped would end?


Hey folks make sure you confront your parents with the things you know they would never agree with or understand BEFORE the nightmare starts for you. Make sure you put it in writing and have it notarized and posted on every street corner so you leave absolutely no doubt.

Because there is a segment of society that does not care a whit about what the courts determine on your behalf after hearing the facts, evidence and testimony of the witnesses (18 testified as I recall).

Years later Carla Iyer might come out of the woodwork and claim she called your mom and dad and told them about murder attempts (late 90's).

But somehow those phone calls didn't stick in mom and dads memory so they forgot to ask Carla to testify at the trial held in 2000 but boy they sure want to have her testify for them from now on.

Maybe your mom will testify under oath at the medical malpractice trial that your husband was wonderful (in the 1990's) but then later claim that he was horrible, murderous and abusive (she starts making such claims after learning that the only way to subvert your husbands guardianship rights is to prove some kind of criminality on his part).

Maybe the whole family of origin will suddenly forget that they never challenged the eating disorder theory during the medical malpractice trial even though they were all fully aware that an eating disorder was claimed to be the most likely cause of your collapse.

For some reason they won't challenge this at all until much later when they will suddenly claim that despite the testimony and evidence offered at the medical malpractice trial (and part of the public record) that no evidence exists that their daughter ever suffered from an eating disorder.

Much later the medical examiner will ignore and overlook the entire medical malpractice court case file. The medical examiner will declare he couldn't prove an eating disorder at autopsy after so many years. The medical examiner will make no mention that evidence, facts and testimony exist in a public court record and that the family of origin never disputed any of that evidence or testimony.

Posted by: TRAPPED at March 21, 2006 1:25 AM