Terri Schiavo's room, quiet
It's a day of lighthearted laughter, prayer and tears. By nightfall, the radio softly plays.
By JAMIE THOMPSON, ROBERT FARLEY and GRAHAM BRINK
Published March 19, 2005
PINELLAS PARK - She was asleep when they arrived on Friday morning.
Her mother walked to the bed and spoke gently into her daughter's ear.
"Wake up, Terri," she said. "Mommy's here."
Family members crowded inside the small hospice room, Terri's sister and brother-in-law, her aunt and uncle.
Their mood was lighthearted.
They joked with Terri, telling her she was on her way to Washington, D.C., that they would park her wheelchair in front of Congress, maybe take her sightseeing. They laughed and reminisced and prayed. They opened the blinds and sunshine poured in.
But the family had been here before. They asked their priest, Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, to perform the customary Catholic rites for the dying along with a hospice chaplain about 11 a.m.
They sprinkled holy water on Terri.
"Sprinkle me, oh Lord, with holy water, and I shall be purified," Malanowski said. "Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow."
The priests gave Terri communion, in the form of consecrated wine, through her feeding tube, Malanowski said.
After, they remained in the room, waiting for word from Washington or Tallahassee, hoping lawmakers or judges would help postpone the removal of Terri's feeding tube.
But relief never came.
At about 1:30 p.m., they heard footsteps in the hall. Police officers and hospice workers arrived. Everyone needed to leave, they said.
The family left, somber and quiet.
* * *
On a brilliant, sunny afternoon, protesters outside Hospice House Woodside fell to the ground and prayed.
Inside, a doctor, several hospice workers and an unnamed representative of Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, took their places beside Terri.
Michael Schiavo was too emotional to watch.
"He felt he just wasn't able to be there," said his attorney, George Felos.
Schiavo had spent the morning inside his Countryside home as protesters and reporters crowded outside. Then he slipped out the back Friday afternoon and went to the hospice. He had not slept for several days, said his friend, John Centonze.
It was calm and peaceful, yet emotional, as a doctor removed the feeding tube and closed the wound about 1:45 p.m., Felos said.
After the procedure, Terri sat in a blue chair in her room and continued to breathe just fine, according to a lawyer and family friend.
Michael Schiavo and a small group joined her in the room.
They wept and prayed, Felos said.
* * *
Michael Schiavo later called Centonze, the brother of Schiavo's girlfriend, Jodi Centonze.
"He was greatly upset," Centonze said. "He was crying. It was hard to understand what he was saying."
"That was the love of his life."
Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, heard the news while waiting in a shop across the street from the hospice. They remained composed, but broke down several hours later, Malanowski said.
By nightfall, Terri remained in her chair.
She wore a pink ribbed shirt and had a stuffed animal, a tiger cat, propped in her arms.
A radio played softly in the background. Someone drew a sheet over Terri to warm her in the chilly room.
Terri's parents remain hopeful.
"We honestly think the tube will be put back in a few days, so we don't need long goodbyes," said family attorney Barbara Weller.
Michael Schiavo went home with a different hope, said Centonze. He hopes his wife, finally, can rest.
Jamie Thompson can be reached at 727 893-8455. Send e-mail to email@example.com
[Last modified March 19, 2005, 01:02:12]
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