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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Thin Line that is Mother's Day

The last few weeks I have felt like a hamster in one of those little plastic balls that you put them in to run around the house, like I'm running here and there but not really getting anything accomplished.  I just keep bumping up against things and the impact catapults me in some other dizzying direction where I have to refocus my attention and then start running furiously again.  A poor analogy I realize, but it works because sometimes I feel like I'm trapped in a cage, a cage of secrets, shame, sorrow, confusion, depression, but I can see what's out there just beyond my reach and I am powerless over the little latch on the door that if only I could figure out to unhinge it, I would be free!  And when I'm not trapped in the cage, I'm in my little plastic ball, running "free," but still trapped and not able to engage fully with this fabulous life that He has blessed me with.  The difference between me and the hamster?  I'm not actually powerless to my confinement.  I have a way out.  The problem is feeling worthy enough to set myself free.

In all the business of the past few weeks of normal life around here, I could feel a little tugging at me starting to surface, that little voice in my head starting to take up more space.  I figured out why as I sat down to fill in the family calendar for May... it's Mother's Day.  I circle the day with a heart on the calendar and then make a note to get cards, have the kids make cards for my mom and my mother in law.  Thinking about my Mom leads to other thoughts, which lead to other thoughts.  If you are a parent you probably are familiar with the series of books, "If Give a Cat a Cupcake," "If You Give a Pig a Pancake."  It's kind of like that.  There's a book idea.  I digress.  So, it dawns on me that Mother's Day is trigger for me emotionally and as each of these dates come and go, the battle begins with how am I going to handle it now.  It was so much easier when I had this all locked deep inside me.  How can I handle it with Grace in my heart and only a few people who I can talk about her to and the secret that she remains to be?

Mother's Day is no different.  I started to think about how often I write "mother of two" or when someone asks me how many children I have and I answer, "two," but somewhere inside I'm screaming, "three! I have three, but let me explain..."  I wonder when I will be able to answer those questions or identify myself in that way without the need for explanation either because it's nobody's damn business really and because I don't feel the need to explain it in the first place.  I am a mother of three... period.  I'm not able to do it yet.  The thin line of Mother's Day is celebrating my own motherhood and accepting cards and presents and whatever concoction is presented as "breakfast" in bed with the guilt and shame and sorrow I feel over the one who isn't here to help with breakfast.  Grace would be 25 this year... I imagine breakfast would vastly improve were she here.

The thin line exists between thoughts like those above, when I'm able to think about Grace in that way and not fall to pieces... and the falling to pieces.  Mother's Day is also a reminder of what I did, what my mother did, what we can't undo.  I've been harboring a lot of anger and resentment towards my own mom lately and now I'll have to buy a mushy card to give her and the words I really want to say will never but uttered.  I have to balance the fact that in most other ways and for my entire life, my mom was a fantastic mother.  She taught me so much, she was tough but I'm the better for it.  The thing I'm most grateful for is that she taught me that I can do and be anything I set my mind to and not to take crap from anyone.  My Scotch/Irish tenacity is both genetic and very much a nurtured quality.  But, I fight the urge to flip the card over and begin to write on the back, "so, do you ever think about the abortion that I had, yeah, the one you paid for?"

The good thing is I've figured it out far enough in advance hopefully ready myself for the spiritual battle now.  In helping my one daughter with her religion homework the other day, she had a whole page on how "Jesus," just saying his name over and over can be a prayer! I always miss the obvious since I'm looking for some grand, sweeping, gesture, but thank You for hitting me over the head with the simplicity that it can be.  Just Your name.  So, I'm taking the hint that simple is better.  Simple doesn't mean shallow.  The prayers of a child are no less significant than some grandiose one chanted high on a hill in some monastery somewhere, right?  And Mary, please Mary, help.  Please help to me realize that you understand the line that I tread and help me to find peace in it.  Nothing I have ever suffered in my little life can compare to what the Mother of God endured, surely she can understand and give me hope.

So maybe, just maybe, armed with some spiritual warfare weaponry and braced for battle, I'll be able to enjoy this Mother's Day and be thankful for the blessings I've been given.  Thankful that I have two healthy children despite all the physical odds against it.  Thankful for my husband, without whom I wouldn't have them in the first place.  Thankful for my own mother who gave me lots of things to reflect on positively and I pray for the grace to understand the other choices.  And somehow, just somehow, please, I'll be able to be thankful for Grace, despite the circumstances of her every existence.  I hope to be able to think about her when someone wishes me Happy Mother's Day without the further noise, of "yeah, but you killed one."  Be with me Grace, this Mother's Day.  I hope and pray that I weather the storm and learn to hear the thunder in the distance but remain focused on the here and now and not retreat into a room of my own until the Mother's Day flowers wither and it's safe to come out again.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints

and with Thy angels
Forever and ever


  1. Hi,

    I followed your link from CAF. I am sorry for your pain. May / Mother's Day is challenging for me (and probably for many others, I realize) for various reasons. I will keep you in my prayers as we approach, hoping you find many graces to make the days easier.


  2. Thinking of you and so many others this day. With a special deep affection and gratitude for all the Simons and Veronicas who walk with the countless women whose stories mirror your own. May you know in some moments today, how much those of us who read your pages, love you! And the Heavens infinitely moreso ~
    Headed out now with my dog and a rosary. It is May 13...Her day really, not ours! That the Blessed Mother will weave your needs into the intentions of each decade....Happy Mother's Day.

  3. It is an honor to do so. Really. Many time your and yours have crossed through my heart today. If that is the case, quietly hold the image of the Sacred Heart...........