"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, February 12, 2005
mur-der Function: noun Etymology: partly from Middle English murther, from Old English morthor; partly from Middle English murdre, from Old French, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English morthor; akin to Old High German mord murder, Latin mort-, mors death, mori to die, mortuus dead, Greek brotos mortal 1 : the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought 2 : the tenth commandment that I broke
There is justice in the world, and a sense of balance that flows through all things, I think.
And in some cases that terrifies me.
Take now, for example. After so many months of avoiding it, I'm writing the hardest post I will likely ever write on this blog. Yet, by the end of this, you will understand the cosmic irony that this post be done today, about this.
The tale I've been telling of my past reaches a climax in 1981, and from that date I was forever changed inside. This is the record of that awful moment.
In 1981, I was still locked unwillingly in my relationship with Debra (again, not her real name) and it was getting more and more damaging to both of us as the days passed.
When springtime came, our relationship had deteriorated to the point where I was being overtly cruel to her, in some misguided way hoping she would leave me. So, I made arrangements to go to the beach for the weekend with another girl. I made no secret of it, and when Debra asked I told her that she wasn't invited this weekend.
Long story short, first of all the weekend went badly for me and then when I returned it was to a very, very angry Debra who had also gone out on me during the weekend. I won't go into any details, but after quite a conflict we ended up back together again.
By the time a week had passed, things were just like before.
Four weeks later she hit me with a bombshell.
"Cliff, I've missed my period."
"By how much?"
We waited a few more days, until she could be tested (that was way before the days of being able to buy your own tests.) She went in the next day for the results, and came back to the car with a grave expression.
"The rabbit died."
"The rabbit died. That means the test was positive, I'm pregnant."
She was never made for a decision on this level. What would she do, she would have to drop out of college. And what would I do, the last thing I wanted was to be tied to this girl forever.
So, I made the decision for both of us.
"You will have to have an abortion."
She resisted the idea tearfully, but I insisted with as much force as I had. Eventually, she reluctantly agreed.
Only a couple of weeks later, we went to the clinic.
It was in downtown Greenville, on a pleasant enough looking street. I picked up Debra and went with her, making sure she went in and checked in on time. I would wait on her in the waiting room.
I had raised the money for the abortion myself. I was determined that this would happen. Pretty soon they called her name and she went into the back.
I knew that they would present her with alternatives, such as adoption and stuff. I had carefully schooled her in this, that the only thing she would accept was an abortion. And that's what she told them.
Even though, I know now, that was the last thing she wanted.
Maybe an hour later, she came out and I walked her to the car. She collapsed in the seat and started crying. she not only was in physical pain, but spiritual pain.
I, however, in my selfishness was simply barrelling through, insisting that everything was OK. Inside I felt a sense of relief.
We pulled into a grocery store parking lot while Debra cried, for maybe a couple of hours or so. She was inconsolable. She kept saying "it's gone, it's gone." I kept assuring her that it wasn't a baby, it was just a meaningless lump of baby potential that wasn't a baby yet. "But they cut it into pieces and vacuumed it out," she wept. I kept trying to convince her that it wasn't a baby.
Eventually, I got through to her. I always did. I took her home to my dorm room and let her sleep.
By the next fall, we had broken off our relationship forever. Her tearful last words to me were "but I carried your baby..."
Several years later, I had moved to Florida to live with my fiance. She had two children from a previous marriage, an older son and a younger daughter. I raised them as my own, and refer to them as my son and daughter. I would never have children of my own.
One New Year's day, my son came in and asked if he could speak to me. We walked out in the driveway.
"My girlfriend is pregnant. What do I do?"
Now, understand, I had spent the entire time from Debra's abortion until that moment convincing myself that what I had done was right, proper, and OK in the eyes of God. But my mouth made a liar of my faulty reasoning.
I spent the next two hours telling my son that the only course of action was to get married and have the child. I told him that abortion simply wasn't an option. And I convinced him.
I now have a wonderful granddaughter, sixteen years old, and my son and his wife have a wonderful marriage. But it would be years later when I came to a full realization of what had gone on.
It was after I had moved here to Virginia, which was at least ten years after the abortion that I made Debra have. I was sitting in church one Sunday morning, and it hit me.
I had killed my own son.
Me. The blood was on me. And I knew it was a son just as clearly as I knew the pew was wood. The gravity of the act hit me. My guilt overwhelmed me. The full realization of it ingrained itself on my soul.
I was a murderer.
The child died because of me and me alone. It was no fault of Debra's, she didn't want to do it and was too weak to defend herself. I had taken advantage of her and done this tragic thing.
The blood had already drained from my face, and I fell into tears as I sat there. I cried for this child unborn and never born. I cried for the curse of never having my own child because I had killed the gift that God had given.
How could forgiveness, how could grace, be great enough for this?
God worked with me on that answer for years. Finally, I understood that God's grace really was large enough even for something so heinous. the problem would be, how big was Cliff's grace? When would Cliff forgive himself?
I'm not sure I ever fully will. This was an act of infinite evil that only infinite grace can cover. I could never make amends, never do enough. The stain is too deep.
In the meantime, year by year, God helps heal this wound, this culmination of my own evil. One day, he will heal me completely.
Which brings me to today.
The irony of me posting this today is that I have just become a grandfather again this afternoon. I have seen my newborn grandchild as my daughter held her first child in her new momma arms.
I have two other grandchildren, but I wasn't really around when they were born. This one though, I was there. Not in delivery, but in the room.
Before we left the hospital today, we stopped by the nursery to see the baby all cleaned up and resting. They wheeled him to the window, and he sat there sucking his pacifier and looking around.
Then, and this was so unexpected for me, he looked me right in the eyes.
We sat there, him looking right at me, for a powerful moment. And something happened inside me, some bond formed that I've never had before. I stood back from the window, disarmed and changed forever, in love with this child.
And, somehow, inside me, there was healing.
There are two victims in every abortion--a dead baby and a dead conscience. --Mother Teresa
Note: Yes that is a picture of my daughter and her baby illustrating this blog entry, taken just minutes after her delivery. I will post the details of the delivery tomorrow.
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