Choosing Life

by Anonymous

August 31, 2018

Content Warning: partner abuse

My Irish-Catholic grandmother congratulating me for “choosing life.”

Yesterday evening I opened a box of tokens that took me back to a time when most people still printed photographs instead of digitally publishing them on social media. My fingertips felt dry against the card stock illustrated with pastel colored storks and teddy bears, and signatures scratched beneath generic congratualtions and well wishes as I embarked on this journey called Motherhood. The musk of over a decade’s worth of dust and mildew and stale incense smoke tickled my nose hair’s. The names of my exes relative‘s reminded me of what it felt like to be a fox in a wolf den.

This box held card after card after card from a family that never truly accepted me as their own amongst a few scattered cards from people with whom I shared blood but not much else, and saw far less frequently. My nostalgia was numbed by a long ago tumult that seems so far away it could almost be a former life. The numbness an ointment, like Bengay on sore muscles, carried away the heat of my anger and the kind of coldness that can bitter a heart, leaving a nothingness in its stead.

What was left was a sensation that exceeds the word “love”. Felt emotionally and also producing a bodily experience that can only be explained as being born over and over again, being touched by sunlight for the first time, every time, or being taken from a meandering, meaningless life and given the biggest purpose that has ever existed in all the universes combined.

One card though stuck with me through the night and into this afternoon. Nagging at my attention while I attempted to focus on the many tasks yet to be fulfilled.

In the last of her year’s my grandmother lost her eyesight, both of her breasts, a bit of her wit’s, but one thing she held onto until she drew her last breath was her devout Irish Catholic faith. Just as her mind did, her penmanship suffered greatly in her old age so I wasn’t able to make out all of her words. What I was able to discern though was that she was praising my decision to “choose life” in this “culture of death.”

Being of the mind that I am, I perseverated a little on this phrasing. In my reflection I asserted that having Z was no more an act of choosing life than was the decision to terminate my first pregnancy.

At eighteen years old I walked out of a clinic with a bottle of pills that would induce a miscarriage. I sat on the floor of the bathtub in a pool of my womb-blood clutching the remnants of a tiny fetus in my palms. I knew I wasn’t ready to take responsibility for another human, nor was the father who only weeks prior drove his elbow into my spine just before I drove away from his house for what I thought would be the last time. I knew only the tip of the iceberg that is the life and emotional experience of a child growing up in the system, and that was enough to know that I wasn’t willing to grow a fetus to term only to birth it, and abandon it, to such a fate. If I were to give birth it would only be at a time when I was capable of doing whatever it takes to properly love and parent a child.

The kind of love and thought that goes into making a difficult decision like that is a radical act of choosing life. I chose my life. I chose to save a potential child from a life of suffering. I chose to bring that soul into existence when I knew I was ready to receive the gifts of the truest love I have ever known.

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