When your heart is broken there isn’t much to say. Yet there can be an urge to get “it” out. That something that aches inside, which words can never really describe, yet we attempt to do so anyway. This old friend named Loss sits on my heart and no amount of tongue wagging will make this friendship any easier. Images at a time like this are superior to speech so I look at the picture of my grandma at age 17 every day. It’s working so far to have her original photograph near my bed above my dresser. Because she is in her youth, framed by simple yet elegant silver plate, it’s easier to take her absence in the world a bit more slowly and softly. Had I put in the same spot an 8×10 photo of her as I knew her; hair short and curled with her face softened from age, my experience of grieving her would have had sharper edges. Instead my body and mind take in the hollow space she left more symbolically, a function that highlights her yet provides an indirect approach to grieving her.
The one thing I can’t get away from is the randomness of tears. Particularly and unbeknownst to me, any story that has anything to do with abortion just sets my eyes to water. Though I’ve been personally pro-life for most of my life, I feel lately particularly protective and saddened for the discarded unborn. Though I don’t logically feel a need to be political, my body seems to respond with an almost shocked bewilderment to the concept of medicalized pre-birth euthanasia. How this ties into the loss of grandmother makes little sense to me. She was a Catholic who followed in church belief on this issue, but it wasn’t anything we much discussed as the one time it came up, we agreed upon it. The issue as a whole is one I thought I made relative peace with; I think it’s a horrible horrible thing but at the end of the day, if I had to vote on the matter, I would be afraid for women’s lives if it was made illegal.
Going to the coffee shop this morning I looked at the faces of children, teens, and adults. I thought to myself “what if this person was never born, or that person over there?” The world, I realized, would be altered forever because the morning barista Amanda wasn’t there. I wouldn’t know about her artist boyfriend and that she’s had a busy summer with family visits. Sure another person could have stood where she stood this morning and perhaps I’d know about them too, but it is Amanda I know a bit about, and it is her face that cheers me up even when I’m tired and want a 2nd cup of coffee. She is a life, a being, and without her here, how many people’s lives would be changed because of her absence?
This may sound like “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of reasoning and I suppose it is. My grandma’s soul and being, being off this earth plane, seems to have changed the way life itself feels. It’s not just about missing her laugh, or the way she noticed penmanship, or the sweetness of her smile. Her body became an empty vessel after she died and no one can say that such a thing can’t, on some sense level, be absolutely felt. God made her exactly the way she was meant to be and He crafted not only her body and mind but her presence in this life. It was like He carved out a beautiful living sculpture whose essence radiated out into the whole world whether others ever knew her or not. It’s hard for me to believe He doesn’t do that with each and every life He creates (Psalm 139:13-16).
“For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always (John 12:8).” To say that a person shouldn’t be born because they will be poor, or deformed or inconvenient takes away the temporary nature of human living and the permanence such fleeting beingness has upon the world. Abortion at the end of the day is simply an attempt at social engineering. No one wants to see suffering or be the one to suffer. But to me it is far more murderous (literally) to say someone is better off dead than disabled, poor, or even unwanted. At what point to we draw the line and say that once a person outlives their perceived usefulness it’s time for them to go because they are a burden. Do we send a young man to be euthanized if he becomes so disabled that he can’t walk? Do we kill someone at age 85 when they go blind? Do we murder the 6 year old who is autistic? What about someone who is poor, blind, disabled, and autistic? Does that person then have just one too many things stacked against their favor – so we should put them out of their misery?
What if my grandmother’s mother was raped? What if she was going to die if she gave birth to my grandma? What if my great grandmother already had several kids and was trying to cultivate her career and had an abusive husband? What if all those factors combined? Yet, what if in spite of these truly dreadful circumstances my grandma was born anyway? Her life would still be just as valuable as it was without such dire circumstances. She would have been a blessing to the world all the same and her pre-birth circumstances wouldn’t have made her any less important to me or those that loved her. And yes I know being born motherless or poor or disabled is a recipe for suffering. But suffering is ultimately a condition of life. We all must experience pain in various ways. It is not up to the likes of you or me to decide which suffering is better or worse for someone else. Only God knows what course of life is best for each person, not us.
To live life is to suffer many times a broken heart. This is a fallen world and no man made attempt at utopia will work, no matter how many people are euthanized before birth or after. Every previous human person, movement or empire has failed miserably at trying to remake the world in their own philosophy. Yet the attempts to “change the world” continue and probably always will until the day the Lord decides it’s time. Perhaps it’s easier to see an abortion as an attempt to help make the world a “better” place rather than understand clearly and soberly that it’s really an attempt at creating a long term global or short term personal utopia that is never coming. There is no perfect life and no perfect world. These are the facts. Sometimes I find myself wishing, based upon my own utopian vision, that we could stop breaking our own hearts to realize that.
Missing my grandma is a painful thing. But I’m glad I’m here for it. And I think, though she would have hated to see me so sad, she wouldn’t have wanted me to not be here in order to avoid it. She is worth the tears, and so am I, and so is everyone God creates.