Blowing in the Wind

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Chapter Three:

Blowing in the Wind

May, 1999:  Dundee Hospital, Dundee, GA

“I don’t understand why I can’t carry to term,” I lamented to my gynecologist, Dr. Franz, with tears in my eyes.  I had just endured my second miscarriage in twelve months and was feeling like a failure, both to my husband and to myself.

“Banner, personally, I am concerned something may be wrong with your reproductive system.  We should run some more tests.  I’m not 100% sure, but it may be damage from…”

“You can say it, Dr. Franz,” I said quietly.

“The mid-term termination,” he stated, struggling to find soft words to deal with the hard truth.

“You mean my second trimester abortion,” I curtly corrected him.

“You know I am always sensitive to how things are said to you,” he responded.

  How can the Lord forgive me of my sin while I am being constantly reminded of it by my body? I thought.

Dr. Franz closed my medical chart and perched himself on the edge of my hospital bed.  I instinctively inched away from him a bit.  “Banner, look.  I have known you since you were just a little girl singing at church.  The Lord has forgiven you.  You have forgiven yourself.  It’s just, well…” he pensively searched for words.  Even his hands went up, as if for air in his gesticulations, until I reached out, pulled them down, and took them into my own.  His hands were warm, in stark contrast to mine which were ice cold.  Like my broken heart, I cringed.

“You can’t fix what may have gotten broken,” I told him.

“That may not be exactly what I would use as a medical diagnosis for a miscarriage, but you were only seven weeks into this recent pregnancy.  You are still young, but this rush to have a baby…” Dr. Franz squeezed my hand and stared into my eyes.  “Banner, I want you to take six months – listen to me!” he exclaimed as I jerked my hand away and gave him an icy, piercing stare so akin to my mother’s favorite look, “Six months of waiting to heal your body before you try for another pregnancy.  Please.  You are still too thin and your blood work keeps coming back with anemia.  I want you to see a nutritionist, gain some weight, take your vitamins, and get your body healthy.  If you do not, you will likely be at a very high risk for a repeat miscarriage.  I sincerely think there may be some uterine damage we may not be able to see so I do want to plan on tests.”

I arose from the hospital bed, crossed the room to the window, and played with the cross around my neck, tracing the outline of Christ’s body on the crucifix with my fingers.  At 27, I had been married to Luke for two years.  We both wanted a child.  My redemption child, my heart whispered.  If I could get pregnant and carry to full term, then both our dreams would come true.

I sighed.

“Can I at least pray about it with you?” my doctor, a family friend and church member of my father’s congregation, held up his hand and gestured to me.

“Yes, sir,” He whispered in my ear. “Banner, the Lord knows well your heart, and you know He has forgiven you.  You have come so far in forgiving yourself, so hear me.  I am your doctor, but I am also your brother in Christ.”

I felt his kind heart beating in his white physician’s coat. He is a good man – a godly man –one that took his oath to protect life, so different from the doctor who did my abortion.

“Your volunteer work that you insist on being so hush-hush about is something that has helped other young women…many of them.  I know that you came to your Catholic faith through the post-abortive counseling, but you have continued that mission in referring girls and women to Christian post abortion help for years. It’s not really the secret you think you have, Banner.”

“I figured as much.”  I had heard the whispers, saw the pointing, and sometimes a judging person or two in the grocery store, hair salon, and in varying other places where women gossiped in town.  “That truly, is, Doc, the greatest thing I need to hear at this moment,” I affirmed, smiling through my tears.

We prayed together, near the window, for my body to heal and my spirit to continue to grow in my walk with Him.

My homecoming was quiet and uneventful.  Our new home on Grandview overlooked my garden of newly planted flowers, and a pinwheel spun around and around in the breeze as I sat in a chair and stared out yet another window.  At that moment, I was not in any physical pain, but my spirit was very low.  I spent many hours on my knees in my flowerbeds.  My flowers were the envy of the neighborhood and an important part of my continued healing.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”

Psalm 18:2,” I muttered.

“You know, Banner Grace, that is your talent—being a Scripture scholar that mutters it,” my professor and recently retired minister father said as he brought me a cup of hot tea and set it down on the small table by my wicker chair.  “You feel a bit better, Mrs. Mutter Scripture?”

“Yes.”

“You got everything you need?”

“Dad, I’m not an invalid.  I can get up and about.”

“I know,” he patted my knee. “Banner, we worry about you, your mother and me.  She felt unwelcome after you refused to see her at the hospital.”

I looked at my father, “Dad, on the subjects of pregnancy, miscarriages, and everything associated with those, I don’t want Mom giving me her advice,” I made rabbit ears with my fingers and my tone shifted to the sarcastic, “that things happen for a reason.”

A look of compassion and understanding came across his green eyes.  A brilliant and kind man, my father had always loved me.  “I think I hear my tomatoes calling for me to water them.”  He stood, stretched his long lanky frame, and plopped his University of South Carolina Gamecock ball-cap on.  “Maybe South Carolina football will have a winning season this year, you think?  I feel Clemson’s tears a-coming!”

“I hope so, Daddy.” I got up and hugged his neck.  His thin arms engulfed me. “I heard you cried on Tom Franz’s shoulder today.  Should I be jealous?” He looked down at my petite height and cocked a dark eyebrow.  I pulled away, “No.  And besides, he was sort of agreeing and not agreeing that the abortion may have caused this miscarriage.” I shrugged, “Or the other miscarriage.”

Dad drew a heavy sigh.  “Banner, we thought we did the best thing for you at the time.”

“We are all redeemed through His blood; I know; Dad. “My tall father towered over me.  I could barely reach his shoulders and remembered my childhood where he often picked me up and threw me over them, as I screamed in delight for him not to drop me.  He had never dropped me then, always holding me tightly.  “It is rather like what Monsignor would remind me, ‘We have to put one Doc Marten in front of the other and seek His will.’  What he never said—or the counselors and group therapy sessions, and my helping other girls get to help who were recovering from their own abortions—what we never addressed is the subject of physical reproductive damage from our abortions.  This is physical damage, not the religious damage or psychological damage we work through in PASS groups.”

My father fidgeted with his ball-cap and his green eyes met my blue ones. “If our Lord is merciful enough to forgive a father for forcing that same girl’s hand to terminate his possible handicapped grandchild, I think the Lord is compassionate enough to give him a grandchild someday—and I don’t care if it’s an adopted one.  All I care about now is my daughter pushing her body too much in her own search for redemption.”

His thoughts now completed and fully verbalized, my father, the retired Reverend Dr. Johnathan Atwood, got up and left my home, quietly closing my front door.  I never drank the tea he brought me that day—I just returned to staring at a garden pinwheel and understood more how the actions of our past can affect our future—the answer is blowing in the wind.

“For the vision (is) yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” – Habakkuk 2:3

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