Friday, October 15, 2010

Hitting Close to Home

I was on my way home the other day, taking the route I normally do, when I saw something I'd never seen before. It was a group of people on the side of the road. They were holding signs; some with pictures, others with slogans. The pictures were of babies, smiling and happy, the kind marketing whizzes use for infant related products. The slogans said things like "I'm an American. I have rights, too." I had no idea who these people were or why they were standing on some random point next to a busy street. Out of curiosity I pulled over and approached the group. I was told by a white-haired, older woman that they were members of various churches across the state and were taking part in a peaceful protest against abortion. I almost laughed when she said this, not because of the subject matter but because of their odd location. I asked why they had chosen this particular spot--there wasn't any sort of facility that provided abortions near.

I've always considered myself to be very open-minded. I've never contemplated having an abortion myself, but I have lots of friends who did and it never bothered me; it was their right. So why the woman's response to me seemed to freeze some part of my soul, I'm not sure.

"That building about 50 feet behind us is an abortion clinic," she said.

I couldn't do anything but stare back at her. I think my reaction was taken as hostility because I noticed a few of the members bristle. I managed to get out one word; "what?" I was five minutes from home. Five. I passed this grouping of buildings every day. I had never known there was an abortion clinic so close to where my family and I live. "Oh, sweetie, you didn't know that?" the white-haired woman said, looking like she wanted to hug me. But before I could answer, something happened that I will never forget.

A man and woman, maybe in their early 30's, stormed up to the group. "What the HELL do you think you're doing?!" The woman looked like she wanted to rip the heads off of every single one of us. "You have no idea--NO IDEA--what it's like to need to terminate a pregnancy and to have YOU F****** PEOPLE out here judging us!! Who do you think you F****** are?!"

I was shocked. This woman was enraged. I started to back up, worried physical violence would be the next recourse; but the rest of the group stayed put, just looking back at the abrasive couple. The man began yelling at this point, I can't remember what he said--I just know his face was as red as his wife's. I was waiting for one of the group to respond with yelling and swearing of their own, but no one did. They spoke to the pair in calm, even tones. This didn't faze the woman at all. Her words became more vulgar, her manner more agitated. "I had an abortion! I had an abortion! Are you going to judge me?? Here I am, go ahead! I was 19! I had just graduated high school, I was too young to know what I wanted in my life! I would have made a shitty, shitty mother! I didn't want the damn thing! Do you think it would have been better for a baby to have a mother that didn't want it?!"

That was when it happened. The man, who had ceased his yelling, suddenly turned to his wife, grabbed her shoulders, and screamed into her face; "I WANTED IT!! I wanted my baby!! YOU KILLED MY BABY!" The man, tall and muscular, who looked like he could take on the world, collapsed on the sidewalk, sobbing. His wife appeared to be in shock--she stood staring down at her husband, completely silenced.

Something broke inside of me. I began sobbing, as well. I turned and ran as fast as I could back to my car. The five minute drive home was the longest of my life. I kept seeing that man trying to speak through his gut-wrenching sobs. I couldn't wait to walk into my house and just hold my three little ones; couldn't wait to hug my husband and tell him how much I love him.

This happened a few days ago...I'm just now able to write about it. I can't describe the impact it had on me. I see the "termination of pregnancy" in a different light now. After witnessing the incredible pain that man had carried around with him for years, after hearing him yell out "YOU KILLED MY BABY!" I just can't help it...I see abortion as murder.

I know this is a controversial subject. I know so many women would be furious beyond words to read my conclusion. And maybe those women could convince me otherwise. I don't know. I do know, however, that this issue deserves more than a passing thought. It's not enough to simply say "I don't really have an opinion on the matter." It is a serious, life-altering issue. One I will never view in the same way again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things That Start with "S"

In the morning it's the first thing on my mind.  I consider waking my husband but children take precedence and I rise to quiet the cries of mine.  After they are fed and distracted by shiny toys, I take a few minutes to myself and sit down with a warmed mug-- but the coffee just reminds me of my waking thought; it's hot, steamy, and an odd juxtaposition of relaxing and stimulating.  Still, the children can't be left alone, even for the few minutes it would take to accomplish my goal.  To make matters worse, my husband leaves for work at this point, taking any lingering hopes I may have out the door with his newly shaved face and wonderful smelling body.
I want to throw my arms around him and beg him to stay-- noontime isn't far away and that is when my energy peaks and it doesn't seem like such a chore to spend a few extra minutes just enjoying.  But instead  I watch the door close and I have to turn my attention to household duties.
As afternoon comes on, I find myself staring at the clock wishing my husband would walk back into the house, surprising me with an early return for the day.  My energy is beginning to dwindle; I find myself getting frustrated and a bit resentful of the man who is walking around the world in complete ignorance as to my needs.
When evening arrives I'm too distracted to think of anything other than preparing dinner, eating dinner, feeding dinner to Husband and kids, cleaning up after dinner, watching the kids play with their dad, and putting kids down for the night.
After this is all said and done, I sit on the couch--in a foul mood because now...NOW I don't want to anything but sleep.  My frustration is at it height because I still feel the need, I just do not have the oomph to do anything about it.
Time slips away from me. The clock is reading almost midnight.  Just as my eyelids are getting too heavy to keep open, I hear Husband's voice.
"Baby."  Oh, no, he didn't.  I know that tone.  I know that inflection.  I ignore him.
"Baby...."  He shakes my foot for added emphasis. There's no ignoring that one.  With my teeth on edge, I answer him.
"Go to bed."
"Excuse me?"
"Baby.  You're falling asleep on the couch.  Go to bed."
"Don't TELL me what to DO!"
"Honey, I'm not trying to!  But look at you!  You can barely keep your eyes open!"
"I don't care!  I'm a big girl!  I can take care of myself!  I've been going to bed for YEARS without your say-so!"
Husband's eyes narrow.  He looks me up and down.  "You haven't had a shower today, have you?"
"NO! NO, I HAVEN'T! THAT'S ALL I'VE WANTED ALL DAY!  From the minute I woke up, all I wanted to do was relax in the hot water, but the kids were calling for me!  Then YOU got into the shower, then you left, then the kids wouldn't go down for a nap!  I JUST WANTED TO GET THIS DAMN STUBBLE OFF OF MY LEGS!  I CAN'T SLEEP WITH STUBBLE! And NOW I'm too DAMN TIRED TO STAY AWAKE IN HOT, STEAMY WATER! I'll freaking fall asleep...I will.  Really...."
My sweet man just stares at me as I rant about my shower-less day.  My voice just kind of trails off as I realize how much I sound like a crazy person.  Then I sit and stare back at the guy.  He pushes my legs off of the couch.  He pulls my arm until I'm standing.  He shoves me toward the bathroom door. 
"Go take a shower," he says.  This time I don't argue with being told what to do.  But I'm angry.  I walk to the shower and I'm angry.  I turn the water on and I'm angry.  I step onto the stupid white tiles and I'm angry.  The warmness hits my skin and I am in heaven.  I breathe a big sigh of relief as I pick up my razor.  And you know what the best part is?

I totally, freakin' earned this half-hour of hot mist, steamy water and the odd juxtaposition of relaxation and stimulation.

Monday, September 13, 2010

To Be Continued

Growing up I shared a bedroom with two sisters; one older, one younger.  Late at night, when the lights were out and the house was quiet, I'd often hear my little sister's voice come through the darkness.
I knew that tone.  I could sense the unsounded giggle.
"No."  My own tone was firm.  "I'm tired."
"Come on."
"Just one?"
I could say no for an hour straight but it was rare that my darn sister gave up.  The girl was determined beyond belief and cute like a big-eyed perky puppy; a very annoying combination that few could resist.
"I just want ONE story!"
Darcy would push and push until one of the off-the-top-of-my-head, let's-see-if-I-can-make-them-laugh, fantasies would come spilling out of my mouth.   Sure enough, Darcy would laugh.  And so would Katie, who for some reason usually remained silent when our little sister accosted me.  Their laughter spurred me on.  I'd forget about the desire to sleep and my stories lengthened as I become more attuned to what made the girls giggle. 
My imagination ran wild--coming up with bizarre situations that had no place in reality; but it was funny, darn it.  Once I was entrenched in the story, which always had more plots and subplots than a soap opera, sleep started to creep back into my thoughts--but I couldn't end the story with so many details left unexplained.  Darcy and Katie didn't care much for the generic "And they lived Happily Ever After" ending, which would have negated the need to tie up loose ends.  So I consistently spun incohesive tales; until the night I, being the brilliant 9 year old that I was, came up with a solution...

"To Be Continued," I'd say, then I'd roll over and ignore any protests.

Darcy had a memory like an elephant.  Twenty-four hours later: "Sarah."
"You promised!"

And it began again.

I think about those nights every once in a while.  It was in those late hours that my love of story-telling was born.  My sisters were my first audience. 
I'm not sure when the stories stopped; and for the life of me, I can't remember much of what they were about.  I wish I could call the girls up and ask them--but it's been years since we last talked.  Our lives have ended up mirroring one of those long-winded tales.  We went through a time where we experienced bizarre situations that had no place in reality.  I took a stance with which my sisters disagreed.  It led to a bunch of loose ends that needed to be tied up.  I so badly wanted to slap a "And they lived Happily Ever After" on there, but the girls wouldn't let me.  Only this time, they didn't ask for another story.  They didn't ask for further explantion.  They simply refused to speak to me. 

But I can't let my sisters go.  I am now the stubborn one.  I keep trying to get in touch with them.  I'm not going to give up.  I have a To Be Continued attitude.