Madelaine Shaw-Wong


At the first launch of Quietus

Playing Name that Dictator!

A fun time was had by all at Calgary's Owl's Nest Book Store.

                                                  Sample from Quietus:

Piter Dram stepped out of the basement and into a nightmare. A gaping hole had been blasted through the front wall of his parents’ house. Every window was shattered. The back door hung crookedly on its hinges. The kitchen table, where last night they shared a meal, was in splinters. The sun shone on Piter’s face through a gap in the ceiling where his bedroom used to be. He felt like he was looking at the scene through a mist. His parents and brother emerged after him and stood frozen in their spots; their bulging eyes scanned the destruction.

     His father was the first to speak. “Let’s see what we can salvage.”

     Piter’s brother, Hadar, kicked aside what used to be the door of the pantry and picked up some cans, putting them into a backpack.

     Pages of Piter’s notebook lay scattered. His chest tightened. He stooped, gathered some, glancing at what he had been studying last night, Polymers of monosaccharides that are connected by dehydration reaction… His Biochemistry final was supposed to be today, his last exam before completing medical school. He had attained one of few medical residency spots at Covona University Hospital. Many years and much effort had been expended to make his dreams come true. Last week, Solime declared war on his country.

     Like ants from an underground nest, his neighbours across the street climbed out of the basement of their destroyed home. Two carried a limp body between them. Piter dropped the pages, letting them flutter away, crawled across the wreckage and ran across the street to help.

     By late afternoon, eighteen corpses lay on the street. The air was thick with the smell of concrete dust and blood. Piter listened for sirens, for the whirr of helicopter blades, but no help came. The uninjured toiled for hours, working with shovels and picks or their bare hands in a desperate attempt to find survivors.

     Having had nothing to eat since last night, Piter thought he would collapse from exhaustion. His bruised, scraped hands throbbed with pain. He paused to remove a splinter from his palm, digging at it with a fingernail. A woman stepped from one body to the next, lifting the coverings, a notebook in her hand, recording the names of the dead. She fell to her knees beside a bloody body and wailed. Piter stood behind her with a hand on her shoulder. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Evening came and help arrived in the form of a bulldozer to clear the roads, an army truck to load the deceased and buses for the survivors. Piter, his family, and others climbed aboard and collapsed into seats. He leaned against the window taking in the chaotic scene as the bus bumped down the roads. Every street was the same—flattened houses, cratered apartment buildings, impassible streets. He closed his sleepy eyes.

My thoughts on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide:
Many people are happy that Canada has struck down the law against euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. I'm afraid that the long-range effects will be disastrous to our country.
New laws will be enacted. Perhaps the laws will propose that only those of sound mind, suffering from a condition that causes intolerable suffering will qualify. They propose that any doctor who does not want to end a life won't be forced; until those laws are challenged. The laws will become laxer and we will descend down the slippery slope.
This pattern has been repeated in other countries where euthanasia is legal. People are driven to seek euthanasia by fear; fear of suffering a bad death, of being a burden, and the loss of autonomy. Rather than offering death, We should offer to relieve their fears.
Modern medicine has advanced to the stage where most pain can be controlled. Let's offer good palliative care that protects the dignity of the person. Let's assure the dying that they won't be a burden. A person's worth is not tied to what they contribute, but simply because they are. This is called intrinsic worth. We must accept others for who they are.
The time of dying is the time to mend broken relationships, to come to terms with life's regrets. It is a time to show comfort and compassion by being there, sharing in the final journey.
To truly die with dignity is to allow nature to take its course. We don't preserve life at all costs, but neither do we run towards death.
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