Letter: Cruel dismissal of McCain causes personal anguish

To the editor:

My husband died nine years ago May 19. His illness was mercifully short and he did not suffer. He was aware that he was dying and he faced this terrible fact with such nobility that our family and friends drew extraordinary strength from him — a man who could barely speak above a whisper toward the end.

Some of the bravest people I ever met appeared at our door, one by one, every morning of his last weeks on earth to tell John Mattoon how much they loved him, and how much he meant to them throughout their lives. They laughed and talked and sometimes cried, but it was a joyous time despite what we knew was right round the corner.

Those who couldn't come wrote letters or called. My husband died knowing that he mattered. Our loved ones gave him profound gifts of dignity and caring and love during the toughest time of his life.

It's May again, so I find myself re-living those last days with my husband. Perhaps it is this particular vulnerability that caused such an emotional reaction from me when I read that a careless White House official said Sen. John McCain's opinions didn't matter because he was dying. There was a time when most of us knew and respected the unwritten rules of a compassionate society. We understood the need for comfort and kindness, especially when a loved one faced death.

I doubt that John McCain's final days will be impacted by such a cruel comment. And I'm sure that he and his family are surrounded by love and support — as all families should be at such a difficult time. But I can't shake the feeling that in addition to everything else unleashed by the Trump administration is now the notion that it is OK to dismiss the value of a dying man.

Donna Mattoon,

Canaan, N.Y.


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