Thursday, February 24, 2011

Remembering Sydney

In failing to talk about the child's death, we were not able to talk about the child's life. It was as if he or she never existed.

By Anonymous

On a recent Saturday morning, my husband and our four children gathered at our kitchen table for a relaxing weekend breakfast. Just after we began eating, I was overcome with great sorrow and began crying. The time had come to share something with my children. They looked intently at me because they knew what I was about to say was very, very serious.

As I cried and sobbed, constantly wiping away the tears that streamed down my face with my napkin, I told the children that there was a person in our family that they never knew about. I told them they had a cousin and explained how that child was created through circumstances that were not pleasing to God. However, the parents as well as the child were still loved by God, and the child was wanted by God no matter the circumstances. They were shocked.

I went on with my testimony. One day, more than twenty years ago, my mother got a phone call from my brother Craig’s girlfriend Tammy and her mother. They asked to meet with our family, and so we met. Only the women were at the meeting. It was then that we learned from Tammy’s mother that Tammy and Craig had conceived a child out of wedlock. Craig had offered to marry Tammy, but her mother took her to an abortion mill and the baby was killed instead.

My children were as shocked and horrified as my family was when we found out. What tremendous grief the death of this child caused my loving parents.

I told my children that I learned about my niece or nephew only after the child’s life had already been taken. They learned of the great tragedy that our side of the family was denied the opportunity to know about the innocent baby while he/she was still living.

The baby, so highly valued and loved by us in death, had been discarded like a piece of worthless trash. I sobbed as I repeated what I had already said, as if by saying it again all these years later would help me finally understand it, that no one in my family (besides Craig) was given the opportunity to help in any way. Would our help have made the difference between life and death?

The other side of the child’s family never came to us while the child was alive because they had made up their mind to end the baby's life. What this tragic and immoral decision would mean to the child, to themselves, to our family, to future generations, to our community, and to our world wasn’t enough of a motivating factor to get them to change their minds. I remember as Tammy's mother told us that abortion was contrary to their religious beliefs. They chose death for the child anyway.

What are we doing.

What a terrible thing human pride is. How incredibly weak is our fallen human nature.

This is why our Creator gave us rules to follow, and one of them is “Thou shalt not kill.”

One of the children asked why no one had ever mentioned this child before. As often happens with such family secrets, the uncomfortable details get buried in an effort to forget what happened so everyone can move on with their lives. It seems like the best way to go about it, for we don’t want to dwell on the negative, and we certainly don’t want to cause anyone further harm.

Sometimes we suppress the horror of our guilt and pain to such a degree that we actually convince ourselves that we did in fact make the best choice. However, as we all concurred right there at the kitchen table, the horror of the violent death of this child beloved and wanted by some family members yet discarded by other family members never went away, and the profound grief over the enormity of the loss of his/her life never went away, either. In failing to talk about the child's death, we were not able to talk about the child's life. It was like he or she never existed.

How absolutely horrible.

This child, who has so many cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even friends, hasn't been mentioned in over twenty years. This person, who is so loved and valued by God and by us, has not been spoken of.

It is also something I cannot fathom to this day, that a child, a member of my family, had grandparents that willingly took the child to be killed.

Many people believe or hope that their post-abortion pain and grief will just go away, but they don't go away. They remain if unresolved, until resurfacing, sometimes even many years later, often times triggered by some event.

My family has been called by God to do more in support of life and to end legalized abortion in the United States and every nation on earth. This is a calling that every person must hear, for we are all called to do our part in living in imitation of Christ.

My children also knew that the night before I had started reading the book Unplanned by Abby Johnson. She is a former director at a Planned Parenthood clinic who experienced a Divine revelation while assisting during an abortion. She had worked there for years and incorrectly believed that she was helping women, until the moment when the child was killed and she saw the truth: the killing of unborn children helps no one and is contrary to God’s will.

Killing is wrong and helps no one. In fact, abortion is a multi-faceted destroyer of lives.

If you have not read Unplanned, get it, read it, tell other’s about it, and pass the book around to everyone you know.

Amazing how reading this book triggered the dramatic resurfacing of the tragic events of one child's murder after over twenty years had passed. The pain was still so profound, the anguish still so real, the incalculable loss still so great.

I can't think of one benefit that resulted from the killing of this child.

My children told me later, as we cleaned up the breakfast dishes and put away the food, that they thought I was going to tell them that years ago I was the one who had an abortion. They understood in that instant that every single one of us is exposed to temptation. All of us find ourselves in situations where we are tempted, and each one of us needs to ask God for His wisdom and strength to do what is right. While the story was not about me specifically, the story did have to do with me, and with them, and with all of us. Unfortunately, we were not the ones with the decision making power at the time the story took place.

We went on to discuss God’s plan for humanity, how we are called to be fruitful and multiply but within the context of marriage, and that the moral order exists for our benefit. We discussed what happens when we choose to sin, and how many countless others are affected by the choices that we make.

We discussed the importance of holding ourselves accountable for our actions. We agreed that it is vital that we remain very close to the Sacraments so that with God’s help, we make choices that are pleasing to Him and best for ourselves and others, especially when those choices are the most difficult to make. We discussed how important it is to go to Reconciliation often to receive God's forgiveness and bountiful graces that help us increase in sanctity.

It astounds me that collectively, on both my husband's and on my side of our families, we have experienced the fallout from abortion, adultery, divorce, married couples using immoral methods of family planning (contraception), and parents conceiving children via immoral methods.

I was very sad to think that my children, so full of God’s love and goodness, live in a world that has become so incredibly immoral. This rampant immorality signals a great distance that people have placed between themselves and God, for those close to God could not act in a manner that is so contrary to love.

On the other hand, we have countless, immeasurably wonderful opportunities to serve others by bringing the love, mercy, and healing of Jesus Christ to them.

We also have a tremendous moral obligation to teach our children right from wrong, in word and most importantly by deed. Our children are vulnerable to falling prey to people with misguided compassion, and they must be taught the difference between true compassion and that which is false. There are many people with good intentions who are behaving in a gravely immoral way, without even realizing it. Our children must be taught the difference!

“It is we who must choose between good and evil.”

-Pope John Paul II

My three teenagers and one middle-schooler will be facing these life-and death situations themselves before too long. Although they have been brought up with the knowledge that abortion is wrong since before they can remember, these discussions are vital and must take place within the home of every single family with children.

My children asked if they could discuss this with their grandparents, and asked for permission to do so. I explained to them the profound sorrow that their grandparents must feel to this day because of the death of their grandchild at the hands of the child’s other grandparents. It still makes me sad that such loving and generous people were never given the chance to properly love and help save this beloved, defenseless, wanted member of our family.

We discussed as a family what false compassion is and what true compassion expressed in imitation of Christ is. They are two very distinct things; one is immoral and the other is moral. One is the expression of selfish love while the other is the expression of selfless love. Our decisions to love selflessly demonstrates that we are true disciples of Christ.

We discussed the importance of knowing right from wrong and not allowing ourselves to be persuaded in a crisis situation to do wrong. We discussed that what sometimes seems like the “easy way out” turns out not be easy at all, and how savvy satan has become at marketing tremendous evil as a good.

My children decided to name the baby. They were amazed when they learned that he/she would be an adult today. We discussed what the implications of his/her death are for all of humanity. All the plans God had for his/her life never came to fruition. The child’s potential friends and classmates never knew of him/her, nor did his/her intended teachers. Perhaps he/she would be married now.

Was his/her intended stopped from being born, too? If not, how was that person’s life affected? None of our beloved’s children can ever be created. None of those children’s potential spouses will know them. That entire lineage of people, and all their lineages, were wiped out forever the moment that our loved one was killed via abortion. How many people in all will never exist now because that one child was killed is anyone’s guess.

What would that child, and their legacy mean to our world? We will never know.

We do know that every single person has the right to live.

Over 50 million babies have been killed since abortion became legal in the United States in 1973.

No matter what the law says, abortion is immoral and is a grave crime against humanity.

Imagine how many children are never spoken of, as if their existence has been erased in secrecy.

Abortion should never be legal, anywhere.

My children decided to name the beloved family member we never met “Sydney.”

There were many, many benefits to the life-changing discussion our family had that morning. We talked about the importance of praying for Sydney’s parents, who broke up after the abortion. We talked about the people who were involved in Sydney’s death, including Sydney’s grandparents, Sydney’s parents, the receptionist at the abortion mill, the nurses, technicians, any volunteers at the clinic, and the one whose hands directly ended his/her life, the abortion doctor who took an oath and made a promise when he/she became a doctor to help heal people. We also discussed the importance of praying for them and forgiving everyone involved.

It is impossible to know who has accepted healing and who has not regarding Sydney’s death, since no one speaks about him/her. I do hope that Craig and Tammy have gone to Confession, accepted God’s infinite mercy, and allowed themselves to be forgiven by the ultimate Physician, Jesus, and that they forgive themselves. I hope they know about the very effective programs that help those who have had abortions find healing and live lives free of debilitating guilt and shame. I hope that they come to understand the difference between true compassion which places itself at the service of others and false compassion which is driven by pride and selfish motivation so that their lives are the happiest they can be.

I hope that abortion becomes illegal in the United States and around the world.'

I hope that everyone learns the difference between true compassion and false compassion.

I hope that even when abortion is no longer legal, no one will ever consider it an option anyway.

Later in the day, my youngest daughter came to me in tears. She had just come from her room where she held a private prayer service for her cousin Sydney.

I am so glad that she values life and understands that although Sydney was killed as a baby, Sydney remains with us and is our advocate in heaven, from the very Presence of Almighty God.

Dear Sydney, please pray with us for an end to abortion.

Please join us
in peacefully and lovingly ending abortion
around the world.