Tuesday, March 22, 2005


I apologize to anyone who’s looking for kayak tales today, but with this all over the news, I can’t help doing at least one post on Terri Schiavo. Too sad about it not to - going to let myself.

Everyone seems to have taken sides. Either her husband is the villain, or her parents are the villains. We do like the characters in our dramas to wear their appropriately white or black hats, don’t we?

I feel so sorry for both sides. Her husband – well, what a nightmare he must be living. He has let this be his life for 15 years, rather than just washing his hands of the matter. That sounds to me like the actions of a person who genuinely, deeply believes that the woman he married would not have wanted things to be as they are. Her parents are clearly ready to care for her – the easiest course would have been to let them, and get on with his own life.

Her parents…how terrible for them as well.

Naturally they don’t want to let go. They think that if they can just keep her alive, somehow, sometime, a miracle might happen and they’ll have their daughter back.

There’s a word for that state of mind.

It’s called denial.

I have gone through some terrible grieving myself. I worked at the World Trade Center. I was there that day. More than eighty former co-workers of mine did not make it out. Shortly thereafter I lost my kayak company – which was probably one of the things I’ve cared the most about in my entire life. Well – I let it go because after what I’d gone through, I didn’t have the personal resources I needed to keep being part of it, so I resigned. The end result was that in March 2002, I found myself simply not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Just wanted to sleep. Sleep was where I didn’t hurt.

I guess that was my denial. My mind is too clear, and the separation & losses were too overwhelming, to be able to actually deny. The towers were gone. I was not going to be invited back in to the kayak company – I was clearly under enormous duress and even under the best of circumstances, the relationship between myself & the founder wasn’t good & that put some very unfair burdens on the other partners. Post-WTC…me being in the company simply wasn’t a viable option. I understood all of that and I knew there was no way to change things.

Sleep became my refuge, the place where I could hide, the way I could turn my back on what I’d been through & what I'd lost or given up. Being awake was being an ache.

So…where this ties back to Terri Schiavo is that I think her parents are asleep right now. Sleeping, and dreaming of a miracle.

And in that state, they have found people who would help them stay in their limbo, instead of people who would help them travel through it and eventually learn enough, find the strength to carry what they needed to - the fact that their daughter was gone.

The people who have prevented them from doing that – the people who have conspired to keep the Schindler’s false hopes alive - those are the people who look the cruelest to me. They have essentially taken this entire family hostage and turned them into a vehicle for their own political ends or even just personal gratification (great ego boost to play defenders-of-the-helpless, isn’t it?)

Letting this be over would be the truest act of mercy possible – even for the Schindlers, who I don’t imagine could see that possibility when they are clinging so hard and letting go after so long would hurts so much.

They have been trapped in that limbo of a first stage of responding to a catastrophe for fifteen years.

Fifteen years.

Seems like the worst thing about false hope is that the longer it’s nourished and encouraged, the deeper the roots go, and the more it hurts when the bearer finally has to let it go.

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