Forty years of grief. And Hope.
Published by Melissa Ohden
August 25, 2017
I’ve been emotionally and physically exhausted lately, on the verge of tears for what appears to be no reason for the past few days. Restless. It’s been nearly impossible to get anything done. I can’t focus. Something’s been bothering me, but I’m not sure what. I have nothing to be upset about, besides the everyday stresses of potty training our three year old and transitioning our fourth grader back to school. It’s nothing worth getting so worked up about.
And then the celebrity birthdays are innocently announced on the radio. “Here are your birthdays for Friday, August 25th.” The announcers ramble off a long list of birthdays. I half listen in as I drive to the airport, getting a laugh out of their commentary. But as I listen in, it sinks in. My laughter ends abruptly. August 25th! The light bulb explodes in my head.
The snapshot of my medical records flashes in my brain. “On August 24th, a saline infusion for an abortion was done, but was unsuccessful.”
That’s why I kept checking the calendar on my phone yesterday, time and time again, trying to figure out what I had neglected to put on it. There was something about that date that resonated in my head.
And there it is. That’s what’s been eating at me. The life issues I’m working through with the kids are not the problem. Entering into my busiest travel time of the year is not the problem. Turning forty is not the problem. Quite the contrary, I’m kind of liking this becoming older and wiser thing. (For now, anyway. Ask me about that again in another ten years).
The reality that forty years ago, I was being subjected to a toxic salt solution meant to poison me to death, and maybe even some subconscious memories of all of this, are what’s been haunting me.
You’d think after living with this for the past twenty-six years, having learned this truth at the age of 14, I’d be expecting it, that I’d recognize it. But here I am, four days prior to my 40th birthday, and I can just now finally put my finger on what’s been bothering me the past week.
Grief has this funny way of rearing it’s head, no matter how much healing you’ve gone through. No matter how much joy I derive from being alive, of having a birthday, of being loved, I’ve come to accept that I may always grieve what was done to me. What was done to my birthmother. And my birthday may always be a trigger for this.
My grief is compounded by the reality that many in our world fail to see that what was done to my birthmother and to me is a travesty.
My grief is compounded by the fact that millions of children will be subjected to a similar experience to what I did, an abortion procedure, but they will never make it out of the womb alive. And in the slim chance that they will, they may be left to die or even killed after surviving.
My grief is compounded by knowing what my biological mother experienced over the years, believing I was dead. It’s compounded by knowing that millions of women will never get the opportunity to know, like she does, that their child is alive and well in this world.
I grieve. And grieve deeply, in these days and hours leading up to the day I was born alive after the abortion attempt.
I grieve for my biological family and how abortion has affected all of us. I grieve for what was taken from all of us. I grieve for the families like ours that have been forever impacted by abortion. I grieve for our great country that has been forever changed by Roe v. Wade.
I know these days of grief will pass, just as they always do, every year after my birthday, and although these days are tiring, they are also God’s way of keeping me focused on the work yet to be done. Although I focus each day on the joy and hope of what He has done and continues to do, I’m given these days each year to be reminded that we live in a world with great brokenness. Of people with similar broken spirits. They allow my heart to be broken once again with what breaks His.
And as I approach this fortieth year of life, I can’t help but think that the best is yet to come, as hard as that is to believe. I’ve experienced so much blessing in the past thirty-nine years! But we know that forty is a powerful number in scripture.
As I grieve once again this year, and maybe even at a higher degree due to the significance of forty years, I hope that it brings you some comfort to know that it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to grieve the loss of a child, a relationship, the devastation of abortion in our world. It’s okay to grieve that life doesn’t look the way you planned it to.
If my life is any example, there is always hope. There is always something to be grateful for. And in the midst of your grief, I pray that you find strength and encouragement that you will persevere. And that God is always there in the midst of our grief, with plans to use it for good.”
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