The secret and pain of abortion will go down through generations – and the stories come and keep coming – and to be honest, there are days I wished I could cover my ears. I am not allowed to – I have to keep listening, writing, speaking, and praying. I once heard the saying, “You have to be an Aaron…” I don’t think Moses and Aaron had any clue about this type of mission in life: writing and talking to people about Post Abortion Syndrome.
A year ago, in a small town book festival, I was promoting A WOMAN’S CHOICE, when an elderly man came up to my booth. Crinkling his brow, he picked up the book. “Romance? Eh!” Men do that often – until they read the back…
“Not exactly,” I began.
He read the back and he looked up at me. He seemed, for lack of a better word, stunned.
“You’re a survivor?” he asked.
“Yes, sir.” You can take the girl out of the South, but the South will eternally be in this girl.
“Why? Seemed an idea for a novel?” That would go down as probably the rudest – and funniest – comments on that book tour. I bit my tongue from being sarcastic – trust me, I found the rude comment rather… BLUNT and responded, “No, sir. My daughter had fetal abnormalities. I was 18 and I made the worst choice of my life. I live with my choice everyday – I regret it with my entire being.”
“Are you a Christian?” he asked and apologized for the crack about “the novel idea.”
“I was then – I am now – but it changed me. Interesting, huh? Choices? You got some too? Regrets?”
I invited the gentleman to sit and we talked about choices – his failed marriages, my failed marriage, the loss of my daughter over two decades before, and the girl I had been when I lost her through my “choice.” My eternal, no denying it, my regretted choice. He never talked about having children, but he talked about his service in VietNam and his regret for his failed marriage. I could tell he was lonely. He was was old enough to be my own father.
“I’m sorry,” he said. He just took my book off the table, flipped it over, and stared at the cover, “There are real groups to help women? What about…”
He stopped talking.
“About?” I gestured for him to continue.
“Why did my mother do it?” he blurted. “How do I forgive my mother?”
At this point, in this blog, in this flashback, you ask me, “Was I expecting that?” I have learned to expect ANYTHING in the post abortive world of PAS – be it from my own emotions to the emotions of total strangers to phone calls at 2 AM with a terrified girl on the West Coast – who got my number from someone… Nothing surprises me anymore. In fact, I wished I could be surprised. I wished I could become…
I care. I care too much. I hurt. I hurt too much. I hurt for others. And in truth, I will always hurt for myself. I own up to that.
I wanted to hold his hand. To pray with him. To comfort him. But I had to know the backstory. Because – for every abortion in America – for every broken and hurting woman – for every baby destroyed in this American Holocaust – there is a back story. Even this son of a survivor had a backstory. Why? What happened? What was her name – why did she do it – or would she and I have that common past to talk about? Women who are survivors find themselves like drowning women in the ocean – we grab onto a lifeboat (each other), we whisper, we talk in shadows, and we wait until we can find our voices. For me, I found it through conversion to Catholicism and redemption – for others, it can be something else. Every woman has her own backstory…
“When my mother died, my grandmother told me that my mother had an abortion – it would have been illegal in the 1930s – with my brother or sister. I was told when I was fourteen.”
“Why did she tell you that?” I asked. Oh, grandmother, grandmother – why pass on the generational pain?! What had prompted the grandmother to hurt a child with the story of a mother’s past?!
“I don’t know – she said my mother was a bad person – and I ended up living with her until I graduated and then got drafted… Anne – is that your name – why did my mother do it?” Tears ran down his cheeks and I could feel his trembling. Time never stops the words of how people hurt you, do they?
“I don’t know – I didn’t know her. But here’s one question for you. Was your mother a good mother to you?” I asked.
“Do you believe she made peace with herself? With God?”
“I don’t know. I only know what I heard – she had an abortion.”
“Focus on this one aspect: was she a good mother to you?”
He let go of my hand and wiped his eyes. “She was the best mother in the world. My mom loved me. I know she did. I love her and I miss her.”
Oh darling boy – grieving for his mother – for I saw him in the elderly man in front of me.
“That is your answer. Be at peace, it sounds trite and it sounds simple, but it really is my answer for you. Let her be at peace – because she loved you. Forgive her.” I stood up because nothing more needed to be said – the backstory was long gone, he knew nothing else and probably never would. I pressed a copy of the book back to him as he tried to return it, “The Index has a list of information to resources and stuff – it may help – if not, at least know: I would do anything to change my own choice. I regret what I did. I’ve been forgiven – I’ve forgiven myself – but not one second goes by every single day that I miss my child – my daughter. But I cannot change the past: I can only go forward. I would hope, maybe, that is what she would want me to say to you.”
He hugged me and then asked, into my ear, “Do you have any children now?”
I pulled back and pointed, to my teenager – helping his stepfather move a table for another writer and smiled.
“Does he know – can I ask – about your baby – I mean, your daughter?”
“His sister?” I embrace the words, for they give me healing, even after all these years. “From day one – I’m of the mind you can’t hide from the past with PAS – it sneaks up on you. Don’t let the generational pain hurt you anymore – sometimes, we have to let it go – through Him. But, yes, he knows. He always has.”
“Amen,” he nodded and he walked away, looking at my teenage son. I watched him become absorbed through the crowd, someone’s son – another woman’s son – who couldn’t speak her backstory.
Whatever your backstory, be it one as an abortion survivor or a child of an abortion survivor: you are worth so very much to know the love and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do not let the generational pain of abortion ruin your love for your mother. Simply put, with this experience remember Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Forgive yourself. Forgive your mother. Be at peace. To learn more about Post Abortion Syndrome and how to handle the generational pain it can bring, please visit Project Rachel at http://hopeafterabortion.com/.