"Mama?" The one word that changed everything for me.
"Mama, I heard that women pilots in our nation's air force have really struggled with this issue. They can't fly in this condition, so some choose this course."
I had just been in church, the pastor's words on freedom had taken my heart and mind soaring straight to this topic without him ever mentioning a single word about it.
Why? I don't know. God in me, it had to be.
Because I have no personal experience with this topic. I bear many regretful choices from my teenage life, and I'm thankful this isn't on my list of regrets. But it could have been. Easily. So easily.
I felt a whisper over my heart, "You better be brave, and bold, and obedient."
I've hemmed and hawed around ever since, in a feeble attempt to be brave, bold, and obedient. Weeks have passed. Writing and talking it out turns my legs to jello, my insides to mush, tears me apart, rips my heart apart. So please know I'm not judging, but breaking.
I thought over it all.
Oh, Daughters, I need to tell you something. Because some things one never forgets.
That picture that sits in my bathroom, on the side of the tub? You know the one. The sole purpose of that picture was decoration. Me, the amateur photographer, imagine that. Some fifteen years ago. It seems like yesterday. The day I sat you girls in a bucket for a picture. The dog's water bucket, no less. You were in your pink swim suits, in the bathroom. Watermelon and polka dots. Cutest things.
One goes in the bucket, then the other. Big sister's legs are getting long. Just drape them over the side. I position those tiny legs and feet. "Smile for me. Say 'cheese' ..."
Big sister, make sure little sister ...
Some time after, my friend who owned an adoption agency wrote to me. "Shelli, watch this video."
Most people recycle plastic—milk jugs, sacks. Buckets, buckets, and more buckets.
I bend over, peering into the plastic to see something precious ...
Beautiful eyes, beautiful skin.
Little tiny baby legs, feet, arms, hands ...
And then my eyes become so clouded with tears I can no longer see.
My heart gasps and the sound spills out with my breath. My living breath.
What could he have been? What could she have been?
Google "baby in a bucket" ... then Google "aborted baby in a bucket" ... one tiny word changes everything.
And just allow those images to sink in, into the marrow of your bone, your soul.
One baby is sitting joyfully with a smile, covered in feathers or covered in a ballerina tu-tu, tulle ruffles, all pink. Happy. In the other picture, the baby is doubled over. Pale. Legs displaced. Organs displaced, delicate and private parts that should be covered. Crimson paints the body. The baby in a bucket, like something you'd only see in a prison encampment. In a horror film. That baby never had the chance to know happy on Earth, to be snuggled, to wear a onesie, to be burrito-wrapped in softness.
In a bucket. Some things deserve a beautiful burial.
That young woman thinks she's ejecting to safety, freedom, normalcy. And maybe she doesn't realize that though she'll be free of a live baby, she'll be placing herself in enemy territory. I won't pretend to know, but I hear it, read about it constantly—the pain, the torment, the regret.
No, don't Google. Don't allow those images to sink in. Because we get so accustomed to seeing the bad ... and then it means nothing to us. The images don't stir our heart, don't make us sick, don't break us, don't make us gasp, don't tear us apart.
The images should place our minds in a prison encampment forever. Maybe they do. Maybe they will.
Oh, Daughters, your sweet baby faces come to mind.
And I thank God that two women gave you girls life. That they placed you girls' tiny infant feet and tiny chunky legs on the side of life. These two precious women, who weren't ready to be mothers, allowed someone else to be a mother.
Because that baby in the bucket could have completed someone's family, someone's life, made a family of three, given a sibling ... could have changed everything for someone sunken low in the pit of infertility.
Maybe the sole purpose of the situation is to keep another from loneliness, to bring life to the dead, to decorate someone's life. Only God knows. But know this—
One's desperation could end another's desperation.
I know life is messy, complicated, but it's worth it. The situation can't be kept a secret, but all secrets come out eventually. The closed always becomes disclosed.
Oh, Daughters, I pray you never have to choose. I pray you always make wise choices. I pray you never hold a list of regrets.
But placing a baby is a critical choice. Fill arms, Daughters of this world, Daughters of the King. Fill empty arms. Place that living, breathing child in living, loving arms, not plastic. That bucket—I pray you never allow to be on your list of regrets.
I pray you recognize there is no choice.
Because some things should never be recycled.
Oh, Daughters, freedom of choice is not free. It's never free to the one whose life was taken. The one who couldn't choose. Life or death. The one who can't speak "Mama" yet certainly can't speak "life" yet.
What could that child have been? The bucket child. Could that tiny, beautiful baby have filled the position of our nation's first woman president? Just think of it. Can you imagine it?
Oh, Daughters. Where would I be without you?
And I know you. But what kind of mother would I be if I didn't say—
Choose life. Choose adoption. Choose family.
Always. For Life.
One tiny word changes everything.