The Sixth Street Bridge

The Sixth Street Bridge
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Stay focused on the road.

     August 22, 2011 was the 24th anniversary of my abortion.  This was only the 2nd year that I actually acknowledged the date that I lost Grace.  It remains difficult for me to talk about it in concrete words like, “lost.”  Did I really lose her?  No, I allowed her to be taken.  Actually, if you get down to the nitty gritty, I allowed her to be killed.  It remains painfully difficult on some days for me to acknowledge any of this and there are days when I hate the fact that I do at all.  I hate how weak and vulnerable facing this fact of my life makes me feel.  I hate how pathetic and ridiculous I am about it sometimes.   Faking strength and wholeness was much easier than this.  I hate even more that a lot of it wasn’t even my fault.  I hate making what sounds like excuses for what I did.  If all of it was my fault and I was the one person 100% responsible for my getting pregnant and having an abortion, I think I could deal with it better.  I would have one person to hold accountable and answer to.  I would have one person to take out my anger and rage on.  I would have one person to blame and one person to answer my unresolved questions. 

     All of these mitigating factors and the surrounding circumstances leading up to that day complicate my decision to allow myself to grieve the loss of Grace.  After almost 2 years of therapy, I still continue to carry most of the burden of my abortion myself, even though I was 17 years old and had no wherewithal to not do what my mother told me to do.  It was a different time.  Getting knocked up was still scandalous and brought shame to your family.  I literally had no one to turn to for help or a differing opinion about what I might be able to do instead of having an abortion.  But with one sentence, one order, one command from my Mom that we were never to speak of it again, the event of that day was swept under the rug and into the deep recesses of my soul.  I remain amazed and overwhelmed that His Mercy also dwells in the deep recesses of my soul.
     I can’t speak to what my Mom did with the memory of that day.  I can guess, but I’ll never know.  It’s not something that I can ever talk to her about or find some resolution for, for a number of reasons.  I will never, ever have the kind of closure that I would like to have or need to have.  So, I try instead, to pray to not need it.  I pray that I can remove some of this guilt and burden from my shoulders because it was never mine to fully bear. 

     As the anniversary date approached, I wanted to find some small way to honor Grace that wouldn’t make me fall to pieces.   I decided I would visit the retreat house where I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend.  After a rough weekend filled with all of the usual drama and every day catastrophes and ups and downs, I anxiously awaited my husband’s return from work that day so I could go out alone for a few hours.  I stopped and bought a pretty bouquet of flowers.  When I arrived at the retreat house, I carefully separated the bouquet into two bouquets.  I had brought two little cards and some ribbon and on each card I wrote, Grace Anne, 8/22/87.  I placed one bouquet in a little Mary Garden at the retreat house.  There is a statue of an angel that looks kind of like what I picture Grace to be, a young woman with angel wings.  I stayed for quite a while in the silence.  I wrote a bit.  I cried a bit.  I even laughed a little because as I looked over the little garden, I noticed a randomly odd little menagerie that accompanied Mary in her woods.  In the garden also were two dragonfly stepping stones, a little “thinking” turtle, an owl, and a few chubby cherubs.  I chuckled as I tried to figure out if there was some meaning behind their placement that only some higher minded individual could interpret.  The only hidden message I could figure out is that it’s all random and none of it makes much sense to any of us mere mortals. 

     The 2nd bouquet of flowers I placed on the Memorial to the Unborn at my parish.  This was done under cover of darkness and is quite a big risk for me as I’m always afraid someone I know will see me.  My husband suggested we go and plant a bunch of flowers there…in broad daylight.  I told him he was nuts.  Someday, maybe…not yet.  I quickly placed my bouquet there and drove home.  

     The rest of the evening went as most of our evenings do and I’m sure I did a good job of seeming okay.  My hubby tiptoed around me a bit as he often does when he’s not quite sure what I need.  Admittedly, I had been pretty emotionally shut down for the week or so before this anniversary so I can’t blame him for steering safely clear.  But, as he often does, he found a way to touch my heart from a safe distance and had left a letter for me in my car with instructions to read it when I got to where I was going.  I won’t share all of his words to me because they are ours alone, but I will share a part of it and it’s the part that titles this blog post. 

     He told me how proud he was of me and my journey of the last two years and though it will always remain somewhat forever incomplete, that I could take solace in the fact that even though my steps have been fraught with distractions, self doubt, pity and loathing, that I had, for the better part, remained on the road that had always been there from the beginning.  I had remained for the most part on the lighted path and had only side stepped a few times into the misery and despair that darkened the other pathways. 
     He also took care to remind me that even though I may sometimes still feel like the scared girl that walked across that bridge 24 years ago, I have now become a gatekeeper of sorts of that same bridge, able to give others pause before taking the next step.  These are the words I hold onto as I stay focused on the road. 

1 comment:

  1. Abortion is like the iceberg that hit the Titanic - most of it was unseen but it caused an awful lot of damage and loss of life.

    Reading your blog is giving me more insight into the mind of a post-abortive woman. My daughter-in-law aborted our grandchild and finally I am starting to understand why she can't tell us or "get over it" even though we have forgiven her. This is helping me to pray 'better' for her. Thank you.