Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Twenty Years Later: My heart and my grief aren’t a political topic. But sometimes the world turns it into that!

Twenty years later and my heart is still tender….

I rarely ever, hardly ever, almost NEVER talk about politics.

Basically, I don't.

I talk about Jesus and Disney and Alabama football and coffee and Target.
I don't blog enough. I wish I took the time to blog more. It's not like I lack words.... but regardless, I do not talk about politics.

Because I don't care. Not that I don't care about politics, but your vote, doesn't make me love you any less. Your opinion probably won't change mine. That's why I love the good ol' USA, because we were founded on the truth that everyone can have an opinion and they don't all have to be the same.
And that's ok!

But when you ask me about late-term abortion. I care.
NO. I don't love you any less. Actually, I probably love you more, if I am close enough to you that you have talked to me about your abortion.
Late-term, early on, or somewhere in between - if we have talked about it, I love you. God loves you.
And if we haven't talked about it, I want to. And I love you.
I feel you. I ache with you, for whatever reasons you ache.

But I have my own truth, too.
And that's why I share today.

I don't tell this story often. And I don't tell it with indifference.
I tell it with tears dripping onto my t-shirt, as I have found myself struggling, yet again, on February 5th. My fingers tremble as I type my emotions.

Twenty years ago.
{Wait. did you get that. It has been twenty years?}
Twenty years ago, and I can still smell the sterile entry of the hospital room that I found myself in.
I didn't go there with joy. I didn't go there with a "bring the baby home from the hospital" bag in tow.
No. I went there scared out of my mind. And aching. My bones hurt with grief.

I had just been told that my sweet Elijah was no longer living. His heart had stopped. His chord had clamped and his life in the womb came to an abrupt, unexpected stop. The little guy that I had nurtured and rocked and massaged and watched play endless soccer games in my belly was already in the presence of the Lord.

I can't.
I won't.
Oh my gosh. How? How will I?

What do I do?
You see I had never delivered a completely healthy baby (that in fact, wasn't healthy and wasn't living).
And honestly, I had never known anyone that had.
What do we do? What happens next?

The sweet nurse explained to me that we had two options:
        1. We could have his funeral. [WHATTTT?  Twenty-something-year-old-mothers don't plan funerals.]
The shocking reality? Yes. Yes, they do.

        2. The more common practice, and probably the "easiest on Mom and Dad,” she said "We will dispose of him and take care of that for you. Then you will be discharged, to go home and recover.”

Oh, wait. I am sorry. I don't know what you mean.
"Take care of that?” What does that mean?
No. Are you kidding?
What are you going to do with my son?

That would be a “no.”
We will move forward with a funeral.
And we did.

My parents and Scott's parents handled most all of those details. I was in no shape to make decisions about little tiny caskets and flowers and such.
Bless their sweet souls for taking over and being the hands and feet of Jesus, and for serving us so well during those days, when I know they were grieving too.

So, what in the world does this have to do with abortion?

Here's where my heart is on this.
And this is the part that is even hard to share and difficult to admit.
But it is the soul-crushing truth.

The nurse came in and explained how the day would go:

        I would labor. I would have pain. I would labor. I would have pain.
        The day would drag on, and the hours would be long.
        And the clock would tick slower than usual.

        But when the time came, I would deliver sweet Elijah. And then they would take him for observation and to determine just exactly what would have caused his death (unknown at the time, later to be discovered the clamping of his chord).
Then, they would take him and prepare him for the funeral home.

That's fine.
I don't want to see him.
I don't want to hold him.
I don't handle death well, on a good day. I know my limits. So, this is NOT a death that I will be able to see and hold.
I can't. And I won't. But thank you.
Y'all take care of him and I will be fine.

Scott said, "I do. And I will."
And that was fine with me.
We agreed that our grief and our process would be different and I knew that my heart couldn't take seeing him, not alive.

So, we agreed.
The clock ticked.
The pain increased.
The reality that I was delivering a life, that wasn't living, was setting in on me, and honestly, today, 20 years later, it's by the Grace of the merciful hand of God that I made it through that day.
My heart was broken. I can't articulate the grief. I can't articulate what I felt like my body was being asked to do.

But, we did. God did. Scott did. Elijah did.
He was born.
My doctor was so tender.
She said "Oh my. He's beautiful. Mom, you were strong. You did a good job.”

But what I need for you to visualize is this:
The doctor was at the foot of the bed, and just before she delivered, she reached above her head and she grabbed a GIANT light from overhead. It was a dome shaped light that was bright and blinding. It was sharp enough to make you look away, because the piercing light was too much to stand.

But look away, I did not.
All of a sudden, as Elijah was being welcomed into this world, I could see his reflection.
I could see my son.
I could see his legs.
His feet.
His arms.
His life. That wasn't there.

In every ounce of strength I had remaining, I thrust my arms forward and said, "Please let me hold him," and she hesitated for just a moment, and gave me an “Are you sure?" look. She knew I was sure.

And hold him, I did. The son I did not want to hold. The body I did not want to embrace. The little tiny toes I did not want to count. All of a sudden, the desire to connect with him was heavier than I can explain.

Oh my heart. Oh my soul.
If I could have opened my mouth and breathed life into his nostrils, I would have given my last breath, just to watch him take one.

I would still love to do that today. The vision of twenty years ago is like it was just this morning.

I said out loud to him over and over, "Just breathe. Just take one breath." If I could have just seen his chest pound. JUST.ONE.TIME. His delicate little self. I loved him so. He never took a breath. He didn't have to.  I loved him as if he had taken a thousand.

I still ache at the thought that my body wasn't strong enough for him. Or I didn't protect him enough. Or going skin to skin couldn't save him. Or I … Or I … Or I …

But God.

We grieved. We cried.
We ached. We hurt.
We buried.

But God.

We were loved so well. We were served. We were encouraged. We were held.

My point?

I believe when you get to the point of "late-term abortion" you are at a point where life exists. The body is full. The connection is there.
I know this full well. I saw him. I carried him. I delivered him. I held him. I buried him.

And I know that the mom is hurting, and I know that the mom has grief. And I know that the mom may not want the baby.

I get it. I feel you. I hear you.

But please give life a chance. And then on delivery date, if you still feel the same way, then let's move forward with the adoption process and give another family a chance to love that life. And if you and I are close enough that we can talk about this, call me. Let me love you through this part. Let me be there for you. Let me listen. And if we aren’t “close enough," let’s change that. And let me be there for you. I may not be able to offer a solid solution or take the pain away, but I can hold a hand and I can help you set up an appointment with a counselor or I can help connect you with adoption services. I don’t know what all of that looks like for you, but I am willing to try. And if none of that speaks to you, please know that if you have read this far, I have prayed for you multiple times already. Earnestly and honestly.

I don't judge. I don't hate. I don't attack.
I ache. I hurt. I feel. And I love. And God loves. And He has carried me for twenty years.
He has redeemed my story. He has enriched our lives. He has shown us a thousand times over how Elijah's death has been used to reach, love, minister and help others.

It's the part of my story that is so super tender. It's the part that I don't talk about in a public setting, because there will be tears streaming down my face, and mascara ruined, in about point 2 seconds! But it's also the story that He trusted me with.

It's a story of life and of death. And I choose daily not to stay in the death, but to walk in the life.

I rambled today. I know it. But I needed to. I needed to share this story today and I won't apologize for doing so. If I offended you, then I apologize for offending you. That isn't my heart and is not my intention. My heart is heavy today. And my desire for life is strong.

Because I know God is a God of creating life, and I also know He's a God of redeeming stories. Even twenty years later, it is well with my soul. (But I still cry about it.)

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