Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I hear the Weather Channel is really good this time of day..

Now the eyes are on Stephanie.

"I'm out of LINE?" Amanda says, her voice dripping with contempt. If her eyebrows were any higher, they'd be on her back.

"Yeah. You're out of line. Steve mentions the wife's wishes, and all you can say is that the husband has a girlfriend."

"Do you deny-"

"Let me ask you a question. Have you ever been in that situation? Ever had a family member on life support?"

"I'm not sure that matters."

"Well then let me tell you a story. My father was on a houseboat with a bunch of friends, late at night. They had all fallen asleep, and evidently my father got up for some reason and fell overboard."

The room falls completely silent. I've heard this story; no one else in the house has.

"Evidently, he hit his head while he was falling and he started to drown. One of his friends woke up and saw him doing a dead man's float."

Nancy and Janet gasp.

"They got him to the hospital, and the doctors said that his brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long and that he'd never wake up again. Machines were keeping him alive at that point."

"Stephanie, I'm so sorry-" Amanda says.

"We told them to turn the breathing machine off," Steph says, glaring unblinkingly at Amanda. "He didn't have a living will, never left any instructions on what to do in that situation. So tell me something. Did we murder my father?"

"That's not the same thi-"

"He was being kept alive by artificial means. So was Terri Schiavo. Without the machines, both are dead. So, according to your logic, I murdered my father."

"Terri Schiavo has a feeding tube. Your father had a- breathing- machine-"

"Why is that different?"

"It's basic... nutrition...." Amanda can barely look Steph in the eyes.

Getting cross-examined by Stephanie sucks, doesn't it? I'm so excited it's not me...

"We deprived my father of OXYGEN. What could be more basic than THAT?"

"But here's the thing. When you disconnect a breathing machine, the victim doesn't suffer for weeks. This is like slow... torture..."

"So it's not murder as long as it's quick? So you support ending someone's life, as long as it's done fast?"

"NO!" says Amanda.


My cheeks start to flush. It's getting very uncomfortable in here. Chris has always been the family peacemaker. I wonder why he hasn't piped up yet.

Right on cue, Chris stands up. "Ladies!" he says, with a big smile. "It's a holiday today. I know this is an emotional issue, but we're probably not going to solve anything talking about it this way. OK?"

Steph and Amanda turn to the TV, avoiding each other's gazes.