Saturday, March 26, 2005

The common speech.

Which of us has not heard someone say, "Yes, but I wouldn't want to live like that"? ( Supply your own vegetative terror.) Then ask yourself when, as the sine qua non of compassion, did we apply the second half of this tacit syllogism , "Let's end it for her then"? Seeing someone live "like that", knowing someone who "lives like that"; isn't that the difficulty? Someone we love changes with age and time, car crash or disease, into what...a person different from the one they once were. Drooling, smelly, Alzheimered into oblivion...this means we get to put them down? We may want to. We certainly want it to end. Are we certain we want to change into someone we once were not? I have these questions only, no answers. It is a highly individual choice. I get some refuge thinking about the suffering of the Saints. Who could not find it in themselves to love the suffering Bernadette? An imprisoned French teenager? A martyred English Archbishop? I don't believe the choice is ours, who we get to love. The test is, will we love? Love the unlovable, the glassy-eyed, that now-seems-a-husk yet is still Dad. Love or fear, we must choose.

Footnote: I never want to reach the "I don't want to live like that" place. It seems but one step from despair. Yeat's opening lines from The Tower pen the inevitable difficulty:

What shall I do with this absurdity-
O hear, O troubled heart-this caricature,
Decrepit age that has been tied to me
As to a dog's tail?

I think we should take what comes and quit planning our escape from the"like that" places.

No comments: