Sunday, March 27, 2005

Prospects for survival... 

MSNBC - Prince Rainier conscious, vital organs have stabilized

This from MSNBC:

The medical update came a day after the palace issued the most pessimistic report yet on his prospects for survival for the 81-year-old monarch, who remains on a respirator.

Prospects for survival?

First of all he is 81 and very very sick. But even more importantly (we seem to forget this sometimes), he is human. In short his prospects for "survival", whatever that means, are 0. We all die. Especially when we get very old, and even more so when we are very seriously ill.

I'm not arguing for pulling the plug (the advocates for that side of the argument don't need my help). Just that we remember a little bit of reality. Eventually we die. We make the most of our lives, and our children carry on.

I hope Prince Ranier's (and everyone else's) health is as good as it can be for as long as it needs to be, and that whatever end each person meets is bearable.

I hereby officially apologize to any 80 year olds who read this (hey, nobody reads this, let alone octogenarians). I originally pointed out above that Prince Ranier was 81 (and very, very sick) to explain that his "survival" might be for only days, or weeks, in who knows what condition--not the sense of the word survival we usually think of.

I realized the error of my thinking when I read Mark Steyn on the subject.

some years back I was discussing the death of a distinguished songwriter with one of his old colleagues. My then girlfriend, in her mid-20s, was getting twitchy to head for dinner and said airily, ''Oh, well, he had a good life. He was 87.'' ''That's easy for you to say,'' said his old pal. ''I'm 86.''

And then I became even more embarrassed by my post after reflecting on the dignity and importance of each of my own mother's last days. I was wrong to qualify the term survival and scoff at the importance of any day someone has left, to influence their children, right a wrong, who knows. This doesn't deny anyone the right to decide the value of their own days, but I was mistaken to try to decide it for someone else.

Its clear I was just totally wrong here. I'd delete the post, but it wouldn't be good "journalism", and I'll probably learn more from leaving it here than hiding it.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: