So, how has your day been? Were you as exhausted as I was? Man! I hit the wall around 11 O’Clock this morning and, ever since then, I’ve been trying madly to catch up on sleep while repeatedly having to stagger out of the bedroom to meet the parade of professionals who keep coming by to check on my wife. I meet with the professionals, I can’t possibly meet with every well wisher. They’re are just too many. I probably slept through a dozen visits you wonderful people made to our house.
We’ve had a steady stream of people coming to see Pam. There’s no way, of course, to know whether Pam enjoys the ongoing crush of humanity; but it makes me feel good. Even when I’m holed up in my room it’s nice to be able to sense life in the house.
So, if you want to have a lot of fun, come visit the Bradfords. The lady of the house is stretched out on a hospital bed, completely unresponsive, while the man of the house is hibernating behind his closed bedroom door, trying to sleep off the night before. What could be better than that?
What could be better? Everyone who’s come by seems to have enjoyed their stay. Even in her current extremity, Pam is an excellent hostess. That’s the consequence of a life well lived. If you’re really lovable, they say, you don’t have to try hard to get people to like you. Pam is long past being able to try to do anything, but people like her. People really, really like her.
The nurses I’ve spoken to have assured me that death isn’t as imminent as I’d feared. Even though Pam has completely stopped eating and drinking, and even though she’s being dosed with morphine every four hours (if not more!), she’s still got a lot of life left in her. Death, I’m told, isn’t an event so much as it is a process. The process has certainly started, but we still have a long way to go.
We are getting feedback, however — from the very people who have been around to watch this kind of situation again and again — that Pam’s case is unusual. It’s unusual with respect to the fact that she’s been constantly surrounded by competent and affectionate care givers. For someone in her situation, she’s especially well cared for. Not everyone is as lucky.
Take it from old Captain Catholic, the authentic way of respecting life, and of allowing folks to die with dignity, is more a matter of treating people really, really well right up to the end than it is a matter of prohibiting euthanasia. Catholic social justice teachings have, sadly, often been misrepresented by those who are more interested in hastening the end than they are in dignifying it. As if that weren’t bad enough, there are some folks — folks who think they’re more Catholic than the pope — who present our teachings to the world in a way that makes them seem if they were a hornets’ nest of restrictions leading to inevitable suffering. That’s not it at all. The practice of justice isn’t merely the adherence to a long list of ‘thou shalt nots’, it’s actually about learning to love fully. It’s about learning to love without restrictions. Every life is precious, and every moment of every life is precious. Unless your actions are guided by generosity, you’re only fooling yourself when you say you’re Pro-Life.
Well, Pamela has showered generosity on others for all the years that she was well and, now that she’s sick, she’s getting her turn at being the recipient of other people’s generosity. I’m always bumping into people who tell me that they’re praying for Pam, and for us; but I’m also noticing that these people are backing up their prayers with loving and effective actions. As Angelique tells it, Pam “isn’t just being ‘prayered’ for, she’s being cared for”. I want my wife to live every moment of her life with dignity — and, it seems, I’ve got an army behind me to make sure it happens.
With love and gratitude,