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Commentary: Multiples of Three

By Christina Abt

Buffalo, NY – We Irish believe that significant events tend to happen in multiples of 3. It's a bit of folklore that seemed especially prophetic this past week as Johnny Cochrane, Terri Schiavo, and Pope John Paul II all passed away within days of each other.

Now it may seem odd to link together the deaths of 3 such diverse people. Yet from my way of thinking the lives of these two men and one woman represent significant turning points in our society, past, present and future.

In the past, Johnny Cochrane was a man of distinction in his law career and in his always-immaculate personal appearance. He served as a relentless civil rights attorney from the mid 1960's to the recent past. Yet the singular moment for which he will forever be remembered is that historic instant when a jury declared Orenthal James Simpson innocent of killing his wife and her boyfriend.

Who can forget Cochrane's summary rhyme, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" or the dramatic follow-up courtroom scene when Cochrane's head dropped onto Simpson's shoulder upon hearing the jury's innocent decree. That trial changed the way the media pursued and reported such stories and it definitely forced the first crack in the pedestal persona of national sports figures. And Johnny Cochrane was a part of the process every step of the way.

In the present, the terrible tragedy and family feud surrounding Terri Schiavo's life and death represents one of the most gut wrenching segments of American Life that I can remember. No matter which side you favored, family or husband, the manner in which the whole disturbing struggle played out on a national stage, complete with questionable political involvement, was both riveting and upsetting. It was also motivating as it stimulated many of us into attorney's offices and online in search of living wills and DNR documents.

That death has not ended the dispute between Schiavo's husband and family only further serves to painfully reinforce the fact that life is unpredictable and none of us can ever afford to rely on that irregularity.

As for the future, while Pope John Paul was a remarkable religious statesman who definitely changed the world, his passing has me wondering about the future of the Catholic Church. John Paul clearly set a standard for the Catholic Faith that adhered to strict guidelines on a number of controversial issues, including that of the role of women. Basically he allowed women nothing more than subservient involvement, which alienated many who a desired to serve in more significant ways.

And so I wonder who will succeed this Pope and how will the next man to wear the Ring and bear the Scepter carry on? Will he continue the policies that keep women disconnected from the Church's hierarchy? Or worse yet, will he further sink women away from the responsibilities and decision-making rights that would provide them a true role and a voice in their religion? I have no ability to predict the future, only a gut instinct that tells me that John Paul's influence on this matter will carry on for a very long time.

Three people whose lives followed divergently different paths. Three people whose lives curiously converged at their deaths. Three people who, in living and dying, changed the world and ultimately our lives.

"Heart and Soul" with Christina Abt is a monthly feature of WBFO News.