Dear Mr. and Mrs. Schindler

I can understand your reluctance to let go of your daughter, Terri Schiavo. Children are the most precious thing we have, and it is the job of a child to bury a parent, and never the alternative. But it's time to face reality. Your daughter is dead. She died over a decade ago when a massive heart attack cut off the supply of blood and oxygen to her brain. Maybe she scowls once in while and maybe she winces when someone changes her I.V., but that isn't life. At least that's not human life. Humans do things. Humans know that life is a verb.

Is this really the way you want to remember her, being turned every few hours to prevent bedsores? Being fed through a tube because she can't swallow? Or slowly curling up as her tendons and muscles contract from disuse?

It's like this, she's not going to get better. She's not going to get out of that bed, not going to speak, say hello or ever even know you're there. The woman you remember, the little girl is gone. Terri is dead. The fact that her heart still pumps in irrelevant. Our brains are what makes us who we are and hers has been destroyed. Your son-in-law isn't trying to take her from you; fate and circumstance did that years ago. Accept this.

What I have a harder time accepting is what you are doing to Michael. You may have lost your daughter, but he lost his wife. He didn't do this to her, or choose her fate. He was looking forward to decades together and then, BANG, she's gone. You act like he's trying to do something cruel. Fate already did something cruel. Of the three of you, he's the only one who has faced it.

In fact, your obsession has turned cruel. The real effect of your is not to save your daughter, but to keep Michael from moving on. He has been a loyal, patient husband and clung to hope for years after it disappeared. The fact that he's seeing someone now doesn't make him disloyal. Should he emulate you and carry a torch for eternity?

It's time to let this go, to give up your obsession. I'm sorry for you, but your misguided crusade is wrong. You've turned your daughter into a partisan political pawn. You're not only hurting Michael, you're hurting yourselves. Ask yourself, are these endless battles really making you happy? Wouldn't closure be a comfort?

For your own sake, please end your denial. Let Terri go. After all, she left long ago.