“Hi, Baby! Mama’s here!” Scrambling around the one-hundred year old oak tree and dodging some fallen branches, I call out, while settling myself in front of my favorite pine tree. I’m in the woods behind our house and it’s just me, nature, and the memory of what should have been.
A nearby squirrel looks at me quizzically and I’m sure I do look a little odd, sitting Indian-style on the ground in front of this tree, while chattering away. I smooth out the grass and move a couple of pine cones off to the side. Years ago I chose this private spot as a memorial for my child. Sometimes I bring flowers to place under the tree. It seems to me that every person who has died ought to have a place where they can be remembered by those who loved them.
Even if they were murdered.
The story started my senior of college. It was in the early spring of the year and things were good. I was all set to graduate and I had just landed an excellent job that I’d start in June. College life and studying would soon be over and I’d be living in the big city, in my own apartment, and starting my way up the corporate ladder.
Buoyed by this excitement, I attended a frat party one night and made some stupid -- sinful-- choices. The morning after the party I had a terrific headache and a sense of shame that the hottest of showers wouldn’t wash away.
I didn’t find out until a few weeks later, but I was left with more than that. I was pregnant. So panicked, I didn’t know what to do. I was always one of those people who said I didn’t “believe” in abortion. But yet, when it became my reality, I found out that my belief wasn’t grounded in anything but shifting sand. There was no way I could have this baby. I was starting this wonderful job and I was quite sure that my employers would not be amused when they discovered my pregnancy. And my parents -- it would just break their hearts if they knew. It never occurred to me that their hearts would be ripped wide open if they knew I had taken the life of their first grandchild.
So, I did it. I laid on that table and I let that doctor dismember my child, piece by piece, suctioning his little body up like he was nothing more than unwanted garbage laying on the floor. Part of me wanted to cry, but I reminded myself of the lies repeated to me by the clinic - every child deserves to be wanted, I had my career to think of, there would always be time for babies later.
And while my baby’s life ended, mine went on. I graduated, moved, and gleefully started that first job. Anytime, a loose thought about what I had done would surface, I would tamp it down. I was not going to think about it!
In time, I married, and then, a few years later, our first child was born. Everything was supposed to be perfect, but I found myself submerged in the deepest, darkest pit of my life. Every time I looked into my new baby’s face, I saw the face of the one I had murdered. I was in a hole so deep and so dark, I couldn’t climb out myself. There was only One who could lift me out, and I knew He wouldn’t touch me because I had killed my baby. Separated for eternity, I deserved every evil and bad thing that would come my way.
Well, eventually my wise husband figured out what might be the root of my angst. Through much prayer and steady counseling, I finally found myself being lifted out of that slippery pit. One day I suddenly realized the truth: I was free! My sin was covered in the blood of Jesus. I no longer had to pay for what I had done.
I was forgiven.
But the reality remains that I am still separated from this beloved child and will be for all my days. And that’s why I slip out of my busy house, visit this makeshift memorial, and talk to him. It makes me feel close to a child that should be in my arms. And it causes me to long for the day, when stepping through Heaven‘s gates, I’ll finally hold him close.