(In my mind I am thinking, "Okay, I'll bite...")
"I have no idea Mike, where were you this morning?"
"An abortion clinic."
(Quietly scoop jaw up off the floor...)
"Oh?" I said, ever so casually, "What were you doing there?"
"Praying for the people going in and for the souls of the babies being destroyed."
(Did I mention this is a nineteen-year-old young man?!)
"Ah, I see." I said. "What was that like?"
"Interesting." He said.
(In my mind I'm thinking...Yah, I'll bet it was!)
Allen-Michael went on to tell me he commuted to the site with a group of eight young adults from our parish. He reported he only quietly prayed and observed the scene, but one of his friends attempted to approach a couple as they were walking through the parking lot and into the building.
My son claimed his friend was not met with warmth when he tried to introduce himself to this couple.
I told him I understood why. I too had taken a walk through a similar parking lot when I was eighteen years old. [Which my son was aware of]. If I could have worn a hoodie zipped up to my hairline and still found my way to the door, I would have. I don't think anyone makes the decision to have an abortion and takes that walk [of shame] without contemplating the potential ramifications of doing so from several angles...morally, emotionally and physically.
Allen-Michael said he didn't know if he would go to an abortion clinic again.
The conversation brought up a myriad of thoughts and emotions for me. As I said, Allen-Michael knew I found myself pregnant at age eighteen and, despite being raised Catholic and having a pretty good relationship with my mom, I felt I had no other choice then to tackle the problem on my own. It was absolutely one of the most emotionally challenging times and decisions of my life. The thought of how much I would disappoint my family if they ever found out I was pregnant was the main motivation behind my decision.
And, before I go further, I will say although I walked into the clinic having made the decision to have an abortion, I had MANY qualms about doing so. I absolutely believe God understood and interceded on that day by having the doctor tell me I wasn't far enough along to perform the procedure.
When I left the clinic I knew I would never see it again. I was incredibly grateful to have been given a second chance to bring my child into the world.
Some of the many things I pondered after my conversation with Allen-Michael included...
(A) How surprised I was that Allen-Michael attended the event (although I don't know why I should have been, knowing how important his Catholic faith is to him).
(B) In my mind, quietly praying in the parking lot is one thing...approaching someone as they try and enter the building is another.
(C) I have always supported my children in their individuality and in their opinions. Even if I didn't agree, I would do so respectfully. Which led me to ponder...
(D) As time goes on and my children get into their own lives, what situations might come up in the future that could really test all I have tried to live by for the past twenty-five years of parenting?
I believe it was wrong on many levels [in my own life] to have an abortion, yet I do feel a woman should have the ability to make a decision about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy*. There are definitely options and there are many agencies that can help. I do NOT believe it is my place to judge or condemn anyone for making their choice. I hope that if my daughter ever finds herself in the situation she will come to me knowing I will listen and show her compassion in her decision making process.
I always enjoy the deep conversations Allen-Michael and I have when he is home from college. Although, this one gave me greater pause than most. He is a VERY traditional-minded, philosophical young adult and his thoughts run a lot deeper than mine. To put it in perspective, I am like a small hole you see at a mini golf course, he is like a lunar-size crater.
Even though there are questions and doubts along the way, observing my children experience life and come into their own unique individual selves is the most interesting and rewarding aspect of motherhood.
*within the first trimester