Today, the St. Petersburg Times reported on the burial of Theresa Marie "Terri" Schiavo. Michael Schiavo's decisions on what to put on her grave marker are yet another shot at those who believed his wife was a life worth protecting. The marker reads:

Theresa Marie
Beloved Wife
Born December 3, 1963
Departed this Earth
February 25, 1990
At Peace March 31, 2005
I Kept My Promise

There's at least one parting shot on the marker, if not two. The obvious one appears to be "I Kept My Promise", but Schiavo's family claims it is not. The second is the fact that Schiavo claims that Terri left this earth when she collapsed in 1990. He's saying that he believed she died (in 1990, not 2005), and this gives us more insight into why he would allow her to be starved and deprived of water. Regardless of her state (which the Pinellas Medical Examiner claims [report: PDF, 614 kB, courtesy of the St. Petersburg Times] was the "persistent vegetative state", but I wonder how the 15 days of starvation and dehydration affected the autopsy results), Theresa Marie was alive when Michael Schiavo's legal proceedings resulted in an order to remove her feeding tube and deny her hydration.

As for "I kept my promise", I don't believe Michael Schiavo did keep his promise to his wife. Because when they were married, there is an expectation, if not an explicit vow, for him to keep her as his wife "forsaking all others" until death separated them. But in the period from 25 February 1990 to 31 March 2005, Michael began dating, moved in with, and fathered two children with another woman (as I stated in my memorial, I am not naming the other woman). I believe that whether or not Theresa Marie asked not to be kept alive artificially (and thus, whether or not Michael kept a promise to fight. However, I believe that withholding food and water is torture, not allowing someone to die naturally. Young children require others to feed them, does this mean we are keeping them alive artificially?), Michael's involvement with the other woman was adultery, was a violation of his marriage vows, and was a failure to keep his promise.

While the courts had ruled that Michael was the legal guardian, it seems that prayers that Terri's death would foster reconciliation and peace have gone unanswered. Michael has fanned the flames of the conflict when he could have done a simple and non-controversial grave marker. For example:

Theresa Marie
Beloved Wife and Daughter
Born December 3, 1963
Died March 31, 2005

God, please forgive us our sins. Please help us to realize that life is a precious gift from You. Please help us to remember that it is Your role "to give" and "to take away" (see Job 1:21) and not ours. Please help us to realize that our marriage vows are a sacred covenant, a promise not only to our spouse, but to You, and they are a promise to be kept. Please grant us wisdom and the ability to see Your will. In the precious and holy name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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