I've been meaning to write this letter for some time, but after watching "October Baby" this evening with John I couldn't put it off any longer.
To all my dear sisters in Christ,
I first need to tell you about my sweet friend "Maddie." Out of respect for her, I will not write her real name so for the sake of this letter, I will call her Maddie.
I met Maddie my third year in college. I went to interview for a job that required extensive travel across the United States. The company was hiring two people to fill this specific position. I was their third choice for the job, but because I had inquired extensively about the job, they hired me.
Maddie had already been hired.
She was beautiful with a heart to match. We were fast friends. She is probably one of the kindest people I know to this day. We spent almost every day at work that year talking about the Catholic Church. She was not Catholic, but was so interested in the Church asking me so many questions. When we weren't traveling to another state, she would accompany me to the Newman Center on campus for mass. I often parked near the Newman Center for class and would stop in to make a visit to Our Lord. I cannot tell you how many times she would be in the chapel praying. She would tell me how peaceful it was just to sit in front of Our Lord.
As only God could align so perfectly, the job required traveling most weekends. So from 1998-1999, I spent most weekends away from home working with Maddie. We would stay up forever talking about boys, classes, faith, life, our families.
At the end of the spring semester, I knew I didn't want to spend my college life traveling so much so I decided to not continue working there.
As life would have it, I didn't see Maddie much after that. I was taking a history course in the fall semester only to walk in and find again that God had put Maddie in my life. She was sitting in the back row, but something was different. She was nervous around me. I had just spent almost everyday with her last year, but now every time she saw me, her eyes welled up with tears. Our history professor showed us the bloody Civil War movie "Glory." She sat beside me in agony, crying, and finally left the class. I remember watching her write the name "Bernadette" in her notebook over and over. She wrote "I love you, Bernadette."
I was so confused by her odd behavior. I never saw her in chapel anymore. I ran into her one time on campus near her sorority. She literally fell into my arms, eyes full of tears. She always had many men after her affections because of her beauty so I assumed maybe she had gotten herself into a bad situation. Nothing was making much sense.
About six months later, Fr. Dunavan, whom was a mutual friend of Maddie and I, told me that she needed to talk to me tonight. John and I went to 10:00 mass that evening at the Newman Center so I told her I would meet her upstairs after mass.
We talked until 7:30 the next morning.
I felt my heart pounding. To be brutally honest, I had NO IDEA what she wanted to talk with me about. I knew it was serious.
She looked at me with her eyes welled up with huge tears, smiled, and said,
"Lindsay, I don't know anyone else who will help me but you. I know you care.
(Pausing for eternity).
Lindsay, I had an abortion last year. "
I sat there stunned. I think I sobbed with her. More, I think we cried heaving tears of sorrow. I could only envision our many, many talks and laughs. I could only remember her standing next to me at the Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinic. We prayed every Friday together. We prayed for the girls going in. We prayed for them coming out. We prayed for the escorts to have a change of heart. She was one that got up early to go with me before class. She prayed during the All-Night prayer vigils. I remember my Stockwell roommates, Msgr. Nemec, her and myself standing in the pouring rain the first night we prayed all night.
She told me that the father was a guy she had just casually dated. She told me about the agony-stricken nights about finding she was pregnant. She told me she tried to kill herself. She told me she tried to induce a miscarriage by getting drunk and punching herself in the stomach over and over. I remember sitting there that night holding her hand just crying so hard my head hurt.
This is the whole point of my story. She said, "Lindsay, I had my abortion over spring break. I knew you would be praying there on Friday, but I knew you would be gone over spring break. I wore a heavy coat and pulled my baseball cap down really low in case you might be there. The first time I went in, I ran back outside because I knew I couldn't kill my baby. My boyfriend convinced me it was the right thing to do so I went back in again."
She went on, "I knew you would help me. I knew you weren't angry or mad at girls for having an abortion only heartbroken at the the loss of life. I suddenly hoped you were there that day. I scanned the people praying hoping you were standing there so I could run over. I knew you. I knew you didn't hate me. I came with you every week to pray and watch you mourn for each woman who went in the clinic. After it was all over, life was hopeless. I remembered all our talks. I remembered how you cared. I knew I had killed my child. I named her Bernadette."
Like I mentioned before, we talked until 7:30 the next morning. God used many people to help heal her and let her know of His forgiveness. I left John at 11:00 PM the night before downstairs talking to people. I told him, "I will be back soon." I assumed 8 1/2 hours later that he would have gone home to his parents (we weren't married yet) and we would talk later. I walked outside only to find his car still in the parking lot. I went back into the Newman Center chapel to find him praying. He told me, "I knew for you to be talking that long to somebody, it must have been serious. I knew you needed my prayers." He prayed in the chapel for over 8 (EIGHT!!!!) Hours for Maddie and I. The years following her abortion, Maddie came into the Catholic faith. She then became a missionary for several years. In his endless mercy, He held her so tight. I watched her become free.
So, I write this letter to my dear sisters who have had an abortion, had multiple abortions, or are contemplating abortion. I love you. Being PRO-LIFE fills every ounce of my being and evokes intense passion and tears. I LOVE you. God loves you. WE, on the other side, DO NOT HATE YOU. We only cry for you and your baby. If I could, I would hold you and tell you it will be okay. I would take your hand and cry with you. As Maddie knew, my heart is filled with nothing but sadness as we watch girls go into that clinic. She knew my heart first-hand. She was on both sides of the picture.
As God would align again in our life, Maddie works just around the corner from where we currently live. I see her often. Sometimes, we talk. Sometimes, we just smile at each other. She knows I know her life. She knows I do not hate her only cry with her. I know she has told God she is sorry. Please DO NOT carry this secret around with you in life. PLEASE DO NOT think WE HATE YOU. That is the devil. We LOVE you. God forgives ALL and MAKES ALL things new.