Jonathan is at the hospital facing something he not only never wanted to face he never really thought he would ever have to face. His wife Mariann is lying in a hospital bed as she has been for the last forty-four hours. She is a victim of a hit and run driver. She was run over by a speeding car as she crossed the street at the cross walk. The police think that she saw the car at the last moment because when she was hit she was almost at the curb. She has very little brain activity left and that will cease when life support is turned off.
Jonathan and Mariann have a lot in common. They are both only children born to older parents. Both sets of parents have passed away in the last twelve years. Mariann’s mother died less than a year ago. Jonathan and Mariann’s parents were well loved when they were alive and are deeply missed since they’ve been gone. Jonathan and Mariann are the same age, forty-three.
They have been married for twenty-two years. They just celebrated their twenty-second anniversary two days ago. Memories of that day fills his grief stricken heart with warmth in spite of his tears. He remembers how they enjoyed sharing memories of their wonderful life together with their only daughter twenty year old Tara. They reminisced of how they met in the back of an economics class in college. He had fallen asleep in class with his head on his arms and started to snore loudly. She was annoyed by his snoring and reached over and pushed his arms to the side causing his head to hit the desk waking him up. He came to staring at the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He wasn’t sure if he was still dreaming. He looked so confused that she burst out laughing causing the professor to stop his lecture and glare at her. From that moment on when they weren’t in class they were together. Tara never got tired of hearing them reminisce. It was not so much that she enjoyed their stories but that she enjoyed watching the loving way they looked at each other when they told the stories.
They got married a week after they both graduated at age twenty-one. Both had job offers before they graduated, She as an elementary school music teacher at a school in a town across the state from the college and he as a chemist only fifteen miles away from the elementary school. They bought a house in a middle class neighborhood between the two jobs. Two years later Mariann became pregnant but she had such a difficult pregnancy that her doctor advised her against getting pregnant again. They always said that because they could only have one child God gave them the best. She was a nearly perfect little girl and is a beautiful young woman.
Jonathan and Tara gazed down on Mariann’s almost lifeless body with the sounds of life support in the background. Jonathan said, “Tara you know just before we went to bed on our anniversary your mother and I talked about this.” Tara asked, “About Mom getting hit by a car?” “No about if something should happen to either one of us that we didn’t want to be resuscitated, especially if it meant that our quality of life would be destroyed,” Jonathan said. He looked down on his wife and gently caressed her hand and arm. Tara said, “Daddy I support you in this. Mom would not want to be kept alive like she is.”
Jonathan said, “How can I? Your mother means everything to me. She and you make life worth living for me. I am at a crossroad here Tara. If I don’t ask the doctors to turn her life support off the only ones who would know or care are you and I. She will still be with me on the top of the earth.” If I do ask the doctors to turn the life support off and change my mind it will be too late for them to undo my order.” Tara asked, “Daddy isn’t love about respecting the one you love? Was there anything you wouldn’t do for her if you could when she asked you before her accident?” He said no there wasn’t.” Tara said, “Then since you love her so dearly you must respect her last request as I know she would for you. You are at a crossroad but this is a crossroad only you must decide which way to go. I will support whatever you decide.”
Tara hugged her dad tightly as their tears fell together. Jonathan was glad for her support but he felt numb and a million miles away from everyone in the world. The only sounds were the sounds of the life support keeping Mariann alive. The doctor approached Jonathan and Tara quietly. Jonathan felt the doctor’s presence before he could focus. In a whisper Jonathan said, “Doctor Mariann had asked that she not be resuscitated if something happened to her. She wouldn’t want to live like this. I am asking you to stop her life support…………….”