Do You Need A Living Will?
Keep Congress and rabid Christians off your sad, brain-damaged body -- fill this out today!
- By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
You could be hit by a bus tomorrow. You could fall horribly ill, get a tumor, be struck in the head by unimaginably heavy things. You could get mercury poisoning as a result of a laughable, Bush-gutted Environmental Protection Agency that just doesn't give a damn anymore. Hey, it could happen.
Will you be ready? Do you have the proper paperwork?
Because most of us don't. I'm guessing the vast majority of us do not have a living will and never thought of having a living will and maybe didn't even know what the hell a living will was until we reluctantly read all about the nasty and morally nauseating Terri Schiavo case.
Until we read, that is, about those hordes of creepy and fanatical born-agains and right-to-lifers who prayed at endless candlelight vigils for not only Schiavo's vegetative and lifeless survival but also for savage moral punishment and even the harsh fiery death of the various judges and lawmakers and doctors who dared uphold Florida law and make honest decisions about Schiavo's tenuous condition and told the government to butt the hell out.
While at the exact same moment these same people, these rabid evangelicals and congresspersons and right-to-life Bushites, had in their warped little hearts exactly zero spiritual or ethical or even commonsense issue with this country killing whomever the hell we want in Iraq, including our own troops, our own kids. Warmongering: good. Death with dignity: bad. Ah, hypocrisy, thy playpen is America.
But back to the point. Because just last week, into my in-box came an e-mail from a Chronicle reporter who was covering the Schiavo case, and this fine missive reminded everyone in the newsroom of the existence of the living will and included the form itself as an attachment and I have printed it out and read it thoroughly and fully intend to fill it out ASAP, and maybe you should, too. Start by clicking here. Or just Google "living will" or "advance directive." It ain't all that hard. But it should be easier.
A living will, for the uninitiated, is a simple legal document (also known as the Advance Health Care Directive) that describes, in clear if somewhat cold detail, just what the hell you want done -- or not done -- with your flesh should you for some tragic or otherwise unforeseeable reason become unable to speak or eat or think or move or function for yourself. It is designed, blessedly, to be completed without the need for a lawyer.
Here is what you do. You fill out the simple form and designate an agent (spouse, parent, friend, whomever) to make health care decisions for you, and you make a bunch of copies and sign them in the presence of a couple witnesses who understand what you just did.
And then you disperse them to trusted loved ones and keep one in your personal file and then, during the next major holiday, when the whole family's gathered around, you stand up and clink your wineglass and make your wishes for your potentially lifeless body known like right goddamn now.
You say, Merry Christmas everyone and I love you all and hey by the way just FYI, I do not under any circumstances want to be kept alive by a goddamn feeding tube for 15 years especially if I have acute bulimia-induced brain damage and can't focus or speak or eat or move or function in any substantive way whatsoever and never will again, and under no circumstances will you let me become in any way a decrepit political football or a cause célèbre for the Right-to-lifer sect or hypocritical Republican fund-raising jackals, thank you and cheers and ho ho ho.
Do it. Do it soon. Do it no matter how young or how healthy or how far away from becoming a Schiavo case yourself you feel you are because, well, this is the way it is. This is what we have become. This is what you have to do.
Do it because we are now in a country where it's OK to vote for brutal unwinnable wars and it's OK to kill over 20,000 innocent Iraqis and it's OK to justify the death of over 1,500 U.S. soldiers over a presidential lie, OK to blindly support environmental devastation and industry deregulation that will lead to all manner of pollution and illness and cancer and death in future generations but oh my God if you should want to follow the law and be allowed to pass from this life with a shred of dignity, you are a monster, or a lightning rod, or a bizarre martyr, not to mention a cash cow for the GOP.
Do it because we are now in a country where you need to protect yourself from hordes of people who insist on praying for you when theirs are the kind of prayers that make God cringe.
See, there is this rift. This chasm, this nasty hypocritical rupture in America right now and it has to do with a lot of pseudoreligious types cramming their beliefs down everyone's throat via new laws and silly moral codes and really awful B-grade slasher movies featuring a beaten blood-soaked Jesus wondering just what the hell happened to his real message.
All of which is inducing a collective nausea among anyone with a brain and an active soul and a self-defined sense of their own spiritual path until they go, oh holy hell, now I need to fill out some forms to make sure misguided sanctimonious types don't stomp into my hospital room and refuse to let me pass into nirvana with a tiny shred of peace and self-respect and maybe my favorite nipple ring.
So then, I'm filling out these forms. And, by the way, I say this now to all Christians and congresspersons and right-to-lifers and anyone else who thinks they know God but really seem to know only fear and sanctimony and sad religious myopia, should I even find myself in Terri Schiavo's condition, please, do not pray for me.
Not that you would, I know, because I'm not exactly your type, given how I'm such a happy sinner, more of a Zen Atheist Buddhist Taoist Pagan Zoroastrian Wiccan Orgasmican than a Christian and I vote liberal and read books and I am not, according to current evangelical Christian doctrine, going anywhere near heaven. Not your heaven, anyway. But still.
So, no prayers. No vigils. No camera crews. No snarling attacks on my family or my naturopath or my dog. Just a few loved ones meditating calmly and maybe some Bach cello or Chopin nocturnes or old Massive Attack playing softly in the background as a large dose of Laphroaig 15 pumps quietly through the intravenous and a warmhearted spiritual healer/energy worker sits nearby to help point me to the correct Exit sign leading to the moist afterlife. That's all.
Just let me go, in peace. This is all I ask. This is all any of us should ask. Now, where do I sign?