Witnessing for Terri
By Matt Abbott
I received the following account from Mary Kelly Ames, a dedicated pro-life young adult with a heart of gold:
"I had been following the legal case of Terri Schindler Schiavo long before her feeding tube was removed. As a woman, I was and still am in shock that Michael Schiavo was able to retain all of his legal rights to decide whether the woman he married in sickness and in health had the right to live or die. Michael never provided Terri with access to proper medical care; in fact, her medical record indicates a very probable pattern of physical abuse starting long before her collapse. He has also been proudly living in open adultery for the past ten years with another woman who is the biological mother of his two children. His attorney is an avowed member of the Hemlock Society.
"By allowing Michael to unnaturally hasten Terri's death when she wasn't dying, our courts have sent a clear message to every female in America. The value of our humanity is no longer measured by the reality of our personhood; it is now to be (subjectively) decided by what we can visibly contribute to society. Women are now property, not people, and are therefore not worth being protected should they become legally incapacitated. As an American citizen, Terri was literally given less constitutional protection than an animal or an Iraqi prisoner of war.
"On Sunday, March 27, I knew I was being called by Our Lord to go down to Florida. On Monday night, my friend Becky Dula called me as she was literally on her way to O'Hare to book her flight directly at the airport. Knowing that her ticket would cost hundreds of dollars and that she would most likely be waiting hours to fly standby, I told her to go home and wait. I would call around and find two affordably priced tickets for the two of us to leave as soon as possible on Tuesday. I immediately called Southwest Airlines and told the agent that I had an emergency and needed two tickets to Florida for the following morning. Flights were so full that we weren't even able to fly together, but by the end of our conversation, I had two non-stop tickets from Chicago to Tampa leaving on Tuesday for under $500 each.
"Becky's flight arrived several hours before mine. When she picked me up at the airport, she had already rented a car and spent most of her day at Woodside Hospice in nearby Pinellas Park meeting all of the protestors and helping them organize the protest site. I was instantly amazed at how kind, peaceful and diligent everyone was. As soon as we arrived at the hospice, we were put to work making signs, setting up tables and calling legislators and different organizations. My sign that I still possess and will forever keep was made on red cardboard. It features a quote from the late Father John Hardon: 'Adultery Leads to Murder.'
"Over the next three days, I slept very little and held my sign high while meeting some of the strongest and bravest people I have ever met in my entire life. I met normal working class people such as Mari Hernandez, a single mother who ended up losing her job to fight for a woman whom she had never met before. Mari single-handedly organized a drive for red roses to be sent to Governor Jeb Bush in Terri's name. In under three days, his office was flooded with over 500 dozen bouquets sent by people from all over the world.
"I spent time with Patricia Devlin; a blind woman who experiences so much chronic pain that she can only stand upright for fifteen minutes out of each hour. Patricia somehow made it to Florida all alone from Lubbock, Texas and was full of joy even though she had to be laid flat on the ground for most of the time. She openly prayed and wept for Terri as she lay there in obvious pain. I witnessed children as young as four leading the Rosary and a little boy even younger making sure that his brother had enough water to drink.
"I met Bobby Schindler, who was a perfect gentleman, always wearing a pressed shirt and tie as he calmly defended his sister's life over and over to the media. I was able to meet his father Mr. Schindler and gave him my silver tone cross that had been blessed by our now deceased Pontiff. I was only able to give it to him after I begged him to take it and literally placed the cross inside his hands. Mr. Schindler immediately thanked me, took the time to ask me all about myself and embraced me like a daughter as he said how he would bring the cross to Terri. During my stay, I would see him coming out and walking around to thank everyone at least twice a day.
"The Schindler men were the ultimate 'Josephs' defending the women in their family with perpetual honor and dignity. I witnessed another 'Joseph,' Sean Hannity, who insisted on bringing his televised show directly to the hospice to conduct live interviews with the different people who were starting to come forward and confirm that Terri could indeed communicate and was never in a persistent vegetative state.
"I listened to nurses speak about how frightened they were while away from their homes in hiding due the death threats they were now receiving because they came forward with the truth. One of the nurses had been fired just for voicing her opinion that Terri should live while the other nurses disagreed with her during a coffee break. None of those nurses were fired.
"I stood with Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, the non-religious and atheists, the handicapped and the non-handicapped, the elderly and the very young. I met Brother Paul O'Donnell, the Schindlers' spiritual advisor. I had the great honor of protesting with the Presbyterian minister Reverend Mahoney, leader of the Christian Defense Coalition, at the county courthouse in nearby Clearwater. Upon our arrival, Reverend Mahoney had taken the time to ask the officials there if a small group would be allowed in the main hallway outside of the court room, even though that area is legally considered being public space. We would only stand there to pray, not saying a word or even holding up any signs. After receiving permission to enter inside, everyone was promptly kicked out of the courthouse. So we stayed outside of the main entrance, in silence, while on our knees, holding our signs in front of the many cameras.
"I came back to Chicago three days later with more realizations than I can ever imagine writing on paper. Some are joyous revelations, while others are important reminders. Still others are extremely sad. I realized that the medical procedure of euthanasia utilized during the Holocaust did not end after World War II. I realized that in the name of 'choice,' the militant feminist groups such as NOW and NARAL remained silent, letting their disabled sister die. I've started now thinking about my own death. My younger brother William, my own 'Joseph,' has agreed to be my Power of Attorney.
"I was humbled having been one of Terri's sheep, as she, from her hospital bed, acted as our fearless shepherd. Terri, in her death, has shown all of us how to live. She answered God's universal call to holiness with her many daily gentle smiles to her parents, siblings and friends. Terri is a living testimony of the Real Presence. Through her bleeding out of her eyes, nose and mouth during the last days of her life, she resembled Jesus Christ.
"Terri Schindler Schiavo has taught me that now is the time for all of us to rise and become saints. We must arise and fight to our deaths to ensure that a culture of life is available to everyone, from conception until natural death. To act in any other way is to deny ourselves of our humanity. And our humanity is not our own. It belongs to God."
N/A IL, US
Matt Abbott - Author,
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