I was a young mother, all those years ago, there in the pool with my infant daughter for a mother-child swimming class. I wanted her to be comfortable in the water yet also appropriately cautious. I cherished the idea of spending this precious time with her, buoyant and free.
As we bounced along that first day, her little hand splashing with glee along the water’s surface, we made our way toward the side of the pool where another mom and baby glided gently through the warm water. Soon we moms began talking and discovered our daughters had the same name.
How fun. Two little blonde cuties in the water, and we, their mothers, at the beginning of our journeys only realizing partially just what our motherhood would come to mean.
After the class concluded, we dried off our little ones and said goodbye. It would be a decade or more before we’d meet again; this time in dance class. Our daughters now pre-teens, I marveled at how much they’d each grown. My girl’s hair had turned more sandy-colored, and the other’s remained near-white shimmering like flax. Together, they glided on stage with the others, this time through creative dance moves that made us beam with pride.
For a while, I lost track of the blonde beauty who shared my daughter’s name and interests. Though living in the same area, they attended different schools and activities.
Which is why I felt so pained in our third meeting. Standing with the rest of the sidewalk prayer advocates, resources ready, I had to look twice to make sure, but indeed, it was her—the girl, now young lady, we’d first met in the heated pool several decades earlier, nearing the door of the abortion facility.
My stomach in a knot, I called her name. She was alone—all alone—and looking down. I called it again, feeling more desperate and anguished each step she took. My body felt heavy as it filled with heartache. How could this be? Only once before had I recognized one of the clients, but this one felt so personal, as if I were watching my own child.
She never did meet my gaze, and before I knew it, she was being pulled inside by a barrage of escorts in blue vests, swallowed into the hell that awaited. I remained frozen on the sidewalk, feeling helpless.
I waited for longer than usual, hoping to see her on the other side of her procedure. I didn’t know what I would say but knew I had to try. When another commitment called me away before she reappeared, I had to hand my worry fully to God, praying that she’d somehow find life beyond this tragedy.
A week later, I walked into an eatery I frequent Wednesdays for my customary bowl of soup. Looking ahead at the order line, I caught sight of the light-colored wisps. It was her, the blonde “baby” from the pool, the stage, and sadly now, the sidewalk.
Her downcast eyes were upbeat now as she laughed with a boy, seemingly carefree. They sat on the opposite end of the room but within view. Soon, another young lady and her mother and friend sat near them, and I watched as they placed a baby in a car seat upon their table, just inches from the blonde girl who’d just aborted her own child days earlier.
Sipping my soup, I glanced over and saw her turn her body away from the car seat and stare into the distance for a moment or two. My heart sank as I wondered, how many more reminders will she have? How many more visuals will nudge her to recall her own child who will never breathe this sweet earthly air?
Did her mother, the one I’d talked to in the water and then in the auditorium, know? Did her boyfriend? Was she carrying this all alone?
I can only offer my prayers that this dear child—the one I first met with chubby fingers, a sweet little smile and sparkling blue eyes—will be held; that somehow, this horrible wooing of the world that snared her will not destroy her.
Dear Lord, I beg you, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And please, let us help spread your salve of love upon their wounded souls somehow.
[Note: I write about my experiences on the sidewalk Downtown Fargo on Wednesday, the day abortions happen at our state’s only abortion facility, for New Earth magazine — the official news publication of the Fargo Diocese. I hope you find “Sidewalk Stories” helpful in understanding the truth about abortion and how it plays out tragically each week here in Fargo, N.D. The preceding ran in New Earth’s September 2019 issue.]