Living with Terri's Ghost
Married in January, Michael, a registered nurse and clinical supervisor at a county jail, and Jodi Schiavo, a stay-at-home mom, share a Clearwater, Fla., home with children Olivia, 3, and Nicholas, 2. They spoke of their eventful lives with staff correspondent Linda Trischitta.
Michael, why did you write the book?
I need to talk. It's a good release. I'm settling a lot of scores. There are things the other side didn't tell the truth about. That's why I called it Terri: The Truth.
Do you still think of Terri?
I still grieve. I still well up when I think about her and I probably will for a long time. She's a part of me.
How did you decide it was okay to be with Jodi?
I knew Terri wasn't coming back to me. Terri was the love of my life. She'll always be the love of my life. But so will Jodi. We fell in love, but she always knew Terri was No. 1. It takes a strong woman to do that.
Jodi, did you see Terri as a rival?
Not at all. Mike wanted to make sure she had Clinique makeup and whatever was hot perfume-wise and that she had the nicest of clothes. I helped pick it out. Did I think it was right? No. I thought it was a tad bit on the morbid side, but he felt that was what was important to her. I went along with it. I never felt she was going to wake up and my life with him would be over.
Did you ask him to divorce Terri?
Never in a million years. If it were 20 years from now and she's still existing in the state she was in, with a tube stuck in her stomach and our kids are 23 and 22 and we're still not married, I could care less. We are a family.
Does it bother you to be remembered as "the other woman"?
He was with me when he was married to her, and you can try and make that as black-and-white as you want it to be, but it's not. I've endured a lot. I can't tell you how many times I've been called Terri by Mike and his family, and I shed some tears over that.
Michael, what kind of reaction do you get from people?
A lot of people come up and say, "We were behind you 100 percent." Our last hate mail was at Christmas. Somebody left packages addressed to my children with white powder inside—talcum powder with little pieces of candy in there.
Jodi, how did you deal with the threats?
It became very scary when the protesters got so personal. They sent horrible things, like, "To the bastard children of Michael Schiavo." Hello, they are 2 and 3 and can't read yet.
Ever reach a breaking point?
There was a point in '05 when I took the kids and left for a friend's. It was the hardest night of my life.
Why go back?
I knew I loved him, and I knew that the kids loved him.
Michael, any guilt about Terri?
When will you tell the kids about her?
When they are old enough to understand what it was about, maybe at 10 or 11. I will tell them it was her choice, and you have that same right. If you tell me when you're 18 that you want to be kept alive, write it down and I'll do everything in my power to do that for you. But if you don't want to live like that, I will make sure your wishes are carried out.
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