Alphabetical Movie – Just Like Heaven
Anybody remember Terri Schaivo?
I bring her up because Just Like Heaven came out right around the time Schaivo’s name was a big deal on the political scene. In fact, it came out about six months after she finally passed away.
While it is probably just an amazing coincidence, I find it striking every time I watch this film, which involves someone who is in a coma and a doctor who is pressuring her family to pull the plug. While it is just a cute romantic comedy, it feels like there is a deeper message at play.
The film is based on a book so I have no idea if there is a right to life agenda going on or not. It probably isn’t. Fluff entertainment like this rarely has an agenda.
Someone is going to watch this film, though, and decide that their cherished child/husband/sister is actually wandering around in ghost form and if the plug gets pulled, they will kill that loved one for good. They may know the wishes of that individual but they’ll decide that medical science is wrong and they will wake up as soon as Mark Ruffalo can save them.
It probably comes as no surprise that I’m a firm believer in the right to die. I don’t want to lose my wife but she’s made it pretty clear that if she’s being kept alive by a machine and there is no chance she’ll wake up, she wants me to shut that machine down.
That would be a tough thing for me to do. I’d probably need at least a week to make that decision.
More accurately, I’d need a week to prepare myself for losing her. The decision would be extremely easy. I know what she wants and I would be doing her a disservice if I failed to honor her wishes.
I’m not trying to equate my hypothetical situation with the real pain that Terri Schaivo’s parents were feeling. I’m not trying to suggest that they had those same kinds of conversations with their daughter.
They should have. When my kids get old enough, we’ll need to have those conversations together. Because that is important.
The legal and political wrangling around this issue is frustrating. I don’t understand why choosing a dignified end to one’s life is such a political hot button.
I’m not talking here about assisted suicide. I support assisted suicide in the case of terminal patients who are in a lot of pain but I understand that is a different argument.
The argument around pulling the plug often comes down to some idea of “unnaturally” ending someone’s life. The stuff that is keeping them alive, of course, is far from natural but that is, apparently, not important.
If someone is brain-dead, it seems clear that they have no opinion on the matter. Keeping them alive doesn’t “hurt” them in any way. Still, doing so is a purely selfish act. While we are not doing them any harm, we are putting off our own grieving process, using up resources that could be allocated to people who can make it and, in the worst case, ripping families apart in court.
I think about all of that when I watch Just Like Heaven because the first time I watched the movie, Terri Schaivo was on my mind. I couldn’t help but think that people would watch the film and walk away saying “That! That is why I don’t think we should pull the plug!”
And I still think about her every time I watch the movie.
And I am more convinced than ever that if I ever have to make that decision for someone I love, I’ll make the right one. Even if it screws over Mark Ruffalo.
P.S: The movie begins with the worst imaginable cover of a Cure song ever recorded. Fortunately, if you stick around for the closing credits, you can hear the original version of the song. I went to see the Cure in concert on their tour for “Kiss me, Kiss me, Kiss me” and they fucking rocked. They performed “Just Like Heaven” at that show. I know what you’re thinking and no, I was never a goth. I just liked The Cure. I probably should have written about that concert – it’s nowhere near as much of a downer….