My father came home from the hospital last night. Or yesterday? Um. Time difference. Makes me feel all sci-fi-like, and as if I did that whole going back in time thing and accidentally killed someone's great-great-grandpa and now the whole planet is under the dark dictatorship of the giant cheeesy mushroom people.
Mmmm, cheesy mushrooms.
Anyway. He's home, at least for now, and his infection is cleared up, and he's back to himself, which means basically that he can smile if he tries, but that's about it. Multiple Sclerosis makes the giant cheesy mushroom people look like kindly old blue-haired cashiers.
The cause of death for many M.S. sufferers, statisticially, is euthanasia. The physical agony, the slow degeneration of a once vibrant person, the pride-robbing dependance-- And someone in my family said recently, when this newest wrinkle developed, "maybe he should just stay home, and let the infection take its course." My mother repeated the comment to me without rancor and added dryly, "pretty cold-blooded, huh?"
I know that there is a huge world-wide debate about euthanasia, the side for citing dignity for the ill person.
I don't think that that is what it is at all. It's about productivity. We don't consider people useful, viable, contributing members of society if they are not, well, contributing and viable. And useful. My father does not seem to be any of those things anymore.
I heard a wonderful tape by a wonderful Rabbi (Rabbi Frand, maybe? I don't remember the names of my best friends--really embarrassing story just happened with that, I'll post about it when the blush fades--so the names of the Rabbis are definitely pick-a-rabbi style) who said that it is not "quality of life" that makes someone alive. Rather it is "sanctity of life."
Life is sacred and precious in and of itself. That is why we have children, even in a world that knows darkness and pain and will one day be ruled by the cheesy mushroom people as soon as I figure out what to fuel my time machine with. My father's life is sacred and unique and has worth simply because he is alive.
That is how my mother has the strength to do what she does. That is why my father is still alive so many years after the doctors gave him 6 months. I remember when Christopher Reeves (with whom my father bears a striking resemblance to) died of complications of a bedsore. Those kind of things are taken care of right away on my mother's watch. Because she cares and loves him. Because she has the sacred mission not only of having brought brought 10 souls into this world, but of preserving this one, this one whose body may seem to be growing sicker and sicker but whose essence shines with a light from the eternal.