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I got up earlier than I wanted and walked the dogs. Big dogs, unruly dogs, so even I at six-four-two-twenty take them one at a time into the woods, der Grauerhawkwald, so they can smell things and do things and investigate. So they can patrol. For who knows what might have happened in the woods overnight, or who or what might have passed through. So wake up, sleepy human, and let's go and see if the hundred acre woods still stands.
Ahhh yes, here it is. But what's that scent? And that one? And that one, and this... wait, wait here a minute by this tree... okay done, that's mine, let's move on, quickly - I smell something just up ahead, something that might need growled at, hurry let's go there - no wait let's go here... never mind that, come here... wait, what was that sound?
That sound was bells. Church bells in the town below, Catholic and Protestant, noting the death of a Jew. One of the few such ever mourned here in Europe, even if mourned only by a few. But although today is a German holiday I doubt many will spend it in church, and even fewer will find time to contemplate theology or the grander things in life, or the wonder of it all. But this morning how those bells did ring, filling the air with sound as I walked the second of the big unruly dogs through the otherwise quiet isolation of the forest. The bells tolled as they had for hundreds of years, since long before the dawn of the age of reason, marking a moment in history two thousand years before.
And I heard it in the setting of the woods, walking a dog, and wondering if perhaps 500 years ago someone was doing the same thing in the same spot at the same early hour - still working out the stiffness of sleep, the slowness of mind and body and spirit. For the air is a bit cold, if not enough to quicken the pace at least enough to keep the jacket on, and the ground and other earthen things are damp. Spring is still a promise held in smallish buds that can only be seen by those looking for them. But today my spirit was warmed and lifted by the unexpected tolling of the carillons for one transcendent moment. Ahhh yes?, it's that day.
Calendar-wise, Spring began this past week.
Now it?s Spring, but the snow is still heavy on the ground, a wet sodden mass that weighs on the world like a sopped quilt. Winter is the only season we?re glad to see go, and it knows it. Winter always leaves with spite and sneers. And still every year it comes back after fall, and we think: how lovely it is.
Aren't we silly people then? Certainly unpredictable. Welcome winter! Then, somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas we grow tired of it. The odd thing is that winter doesn't start 'til just a few days prior to December 25. Just about the time we've had enough of it, thank you very much, we have our big pagan Winter festival. Then we focus on survival for a few cold months. We forget to allow time to scrape car windows. We curse the empty reservoir of washer fluid in the rush hour traffic over freshly salted slush. Then we come home from long day's work to a setting sun - and shovel snow.
But now we're putting winter in the rear-view; spring is coming. Those buds will soon open. Soon enough the pretty girls will be unencumbered by those bulky coats and hats and scarves and mittens...
Speaking of pretty girls, do you recognize this one? She's pretty, though she seems stuck in time, trapped in amber in permanent transition between the 80's big hair and '90's natural look. What should we do with someone who refuses to stay currently coiffed?
According to ABC News over half of all Americans want her dead. That's increasingly less believable, in light of recent stories about a certain memo. What seems more likely now is that ABC wants her dead. Or at least wants to profit from the drama for a while longer. (Memo to ABC/WaPo: no, you really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really (times infinity) can't manufacture news stories any more. Okay, just kidding. Really you can, but there will be ramifications if you want them. But have you selected someone to fire yet, "just in case"? A great opportunity for corporate housekeeping might briefly be made available to you, if you want it. It is a Holiday weekend though, so it's just an option.)
We pause now for this public service announcement. Proposed:
No one is allowed to seriously discuss Terri Shiavo without first drafting a living will. The wife and I updated all that just before I went to Iraq. Anyone without such document doesn't get to join the conversation. After all, we'll be discussing you soon enough. By then the option of ultimately snuffing you will be a no-brainer. The question will be how long can we keep you artificially alive while we harvest your organs for auction on ebay? (Maybe Michael Jackson will buy you for Neverland.) Don't worry though - I'm with the government - I've got your best interests at heart.
Far fetched? Here's an old joke: "What's the State vegetable of New Jersey?"
Those who know the answer will recall an earlier tragic case of a patient in similar circumstances. We used to joke about such things. We humans are strange imperfect creatures after all. Now we know this is no laughing matter, we're getting ready to kill someone, and she has the right to die with dignity.
For those who didn't get the joke, here's how far we've come. One night in 1975, 21-year-old Karen Ann Quinlan collapsed after mixing alcohol and Valium at a party. Doctors saved her life, but she suffered brain damage and lapsed into a persistent vegetative state. Her family sued for the right to remove her from life support. Though many would now consider it an 'unenlightened' response to such a situation, the doctor originally declined to take Karen off the respirator due to moral reasons.
At trial, her father requested status as Karen's legal guardian (she was 21). Right to privacy and cruel and unusual punishment issues were also raised. (The claim being that it was cruel and unusual to keep her on a respirator.) The judge ruled against him, but on appeal the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Quinlan?s argument. However, after the respirator was removed Karen continued breathing on her own. The Quinlans placed their daughter in a long-term care facility where she was fed and given antibiotics to fight off infections. She remained comatose for nearly 10 years and passed away in 1985. I don't recall any discussion of withholding food and water. Back in those old days it would have been seen as the same as withholding air, for Pete's sake. The question was never raised. We didn't know any better, you see. Hence the horrible jokes.
Twenty years ago.
Made that appointment to establish the living will yet?
Sorry, I got sidetracked, we were talking about bells. After tolling for quite a long while most of the bells went silent, save for one. It rang three more times, at succeedingly longer intervals. A lone voice through the either, reaching my ears in the wilderness.
Then it fell silent too.
Now the dogs need walked again. We'll have to continue this discussion later. For now, be careful, please.
Allah has a post, complete with a link to forms, on living wills, too.
The irony of Terri Schiavo's agony playing out so close to Easter is not lost on me.
The morning dog walk n sniff is their equivalent of reading the morning paper, or so my kids told me. We should update that to reading blogs instead of the paper, though.
Posted by Retread at March 25, 2005 04:31 PM
Hope the rest of your Good Friday is equally as blessed. Love, bigsisPosted by bigsisevengreyerhawk at March 25, 2005 05:15 PM
Thanks for the walk, I needed that.Posted by Dennis at March 25, 2005 06:54 PM
First, I thought "Thats a beautiful logo. Mrs G. has outdone herself" Then I read the beautiful essay about the walk in the woods, the dogs and the bells. All so uplifting! Then the Terri Schiavo part. So sad. But maybe this will wake us up to make changes in our laws. It certainly has people thinking.Maybe some good will come out of this.Posted by Grannylu at March 25, 2005 08:13 PM
Trackback generator on the fritz? I had a post to link, but couldn't :-(Posted by lex at March 25, 2005 10:11 PM
Grayhawk - This was good to read, I've been thinking of the significance of this day in reference to Terri as well.
I hope the discussion continues, I have to believe Terri would want that.Posted by Barb at March 25, 2005 10:22 PM
The whole year I was in Iraq, I dreamed of walking through a German forest.Posted by SFC Ski at March 26, 2005 12:22 PM
Regarding living wills, you might also want to consider a durable power of attorney. Michelle Malkin has a post about it here. In summary, there is doubt about how useful living wills are in general, since it is hard to adequately and clearly cover all scenarios. It's probably best to have both.Posted by Ben Zeen (a pseudonym) at March 26, 2005 07:04 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(9) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)