Thursday, August 17, 2006


BBC host, Jenni Murray, a feminist and euthanasia advocate is angry. Why? Because after fighting so hard to become liberated and independent, she’s now been “trapped” into caring for her mother who is ill with Parkinson’s disease.

Jenni is so angry, in fact, that she has entered into a suicide pact with friends just in case she should find herself incapacitated by an illness. I can’t say that I blame her. If you have ever cared for someone who is elderly or disabled 24/7 it is exhausting, confining, and less than glamorous. It doesn’t coexist very well with a lifestyle of travel, fresh acrylic nails or treatments at the spa. It produces bad backs, sleepless nights, and if it’s a loved one, worry beyond imagination. I should know. I did it for 20 years. Not for my mother, but for my daughter, Sasha, who required diapering, bathing, feeding and constant medical attention…and I WAS trapped. Weekends…evenings…and many days when she was too sick to leave the house. I was old when I was young….chronically tired and perpetually grieved.

Why is it then that I can find words to describe that experience, but cannot for the life of me find them to express to you or to Jenni, if I had the chance, the depth, the beauty, the joy, the profundity of that same experience. How can I explain to you that in dying to the rights of my youth….giving to her when I had nothing left to give…crying from the depths of my soul when I had no more tears, I found the deepest, most immovable, unshakeable relationship with my Heavenly Father…. A strength unbreakable in my abject weakness…a discovery of another self in my selflessness.

How can I describe to you the sweetness of His presence…the daily miracles of His mercy and encouragement….I can’t…I can’t.

How could I tell her or you that I would do it again? I would choose my precious Sasha and all that entails for the joy of loving her and learning more of Him.

As to Jenni’s suicide pact, I understand that too. I hate to be dependent on anyone…even for a ride or a meal. I like being independent and I don’t want anyone to have to wait on me. Dietrich Bonhoeffer sorted that one out clearly when he said, “Not only do the weak need the strong, but the strong need the weak.” The mystery here is, that even in depending on others in our weakness, we are serving them by helping mold THEIR character.

The BBC says “the law against assisted suicide is supported by a ‘religious minority’ who hold to an outdated moral view that human life is inherently valuable and that children have a legitimate obligation to care for elderly parents.”

It’s true, you know. If I didn’t know there was a God, I would be very much in favor of mercy killing the elderly and following Princeton’s Dr. Peter Singer in suggesting the extermination of unwanted disabled children. It’s just a more graphic illustration of “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die.” Jenni Murray and others feel the way they do because to them this life is all there is. You only go around once...and so you gotta “go for the gusto,” if you know what I mean.

But there IS a God who gives to those of us who acknowledge and serve Him an upside down perspective of suffering that only His servants can understand. St. Francis of Assisi put it beautifully when he said,” For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, it is in dying that we are born to eternal life!”

But how do you explain that to the BBC? I hope I just did.

-Sandy Rios