I knew what the prologue would be.
The notification popped up on my phone, “Appointment, 2:30.” I stared at it transfixed, my mind churning.
I knew about the chaos.
I had played how it would go all out in my head. My parents, sitting on the couch, smiling happily at me, blissfully unaware. Just living their happy, everyday lives with their nice jobs and nice neighbors and nice, straight-A daughter and —
I’d tell them.
They’d be shocked. I could see their eyes widening at the blow. My mother’s hand would come up to her mouth, shaking as she tried to comprehend it, to take it in. “Why– how–”
I knew they would be so betrayed. So disappointed.
I knew the whispers, the looks.
All my friends, family, acquaintances, would feel the same way. The groups of girls would whisper and stare at me out of the corners of their eyes. All the adults would ignore me with icy disapproval, or — so much worse — speak softly to me with deigning kindness, disgust veiled behind smiles, all the while thinking of my failure.
I knew the complete shame.
I had ruined everything. My education, my family, my future – all gone. Every one of them — dashed to pieces on the floor. Why did I let this happen?
Now nothing would ever be the same.
I knew what the prologue would be.
I sat there in my car, transfixed by that glowing bubble of text.
I didn’t know the rest of the story.
Finally, steeling myself, I pressed the ignore button. Hands shaking with the enormity of what I was walking into, I turned the key to start my car. I was going home.
My parents cried. But — they didn’t cry because of me. They cried with me. We all sat a long time on that couch, let the realization of the earthquake which had shaken our lives sink in. Mom’s hands smoothed my hair as I cried on her chest, and Dad’s arms wrapped around all of us.
Nothing would ever be the same.
I didn’t know what the first chapter would hold.
I stepped back and cocked my head, surveying the wall. The blank whiteness stared back at me; but there, right at the top, in lovely swirls and loops, were painted the words, “Our Story.” I turned and picked up a picture. I smiled at the little wrinkled face — with a pink hat and a bracelet announcing 7 pounds, 4 ounces — looking out from the frame. I hung the picture in the very center of the wall, under the painted words.
I didn’t know about your blue eyes.
I erased my answer angrily, yet again. Why was this so hard? The one lamp on my desk shone brightly on the numbers and words in my book, making them swim before my eyes. I grunted with frustration, threw my pencil across the room, and buried my head in my arms. Suddenly, from the monitor came cries. Teething babies are not easy sleepers. Exhausted and frustrated, I went to the baby’s room.
I picked my little baby up in my arms, whispering to her, “Shhh, it’s alright, Amy, shhh,” and rocked her, cooing nonsense. The crying eyes slowly dried, and the blue jewels looked solemnly up at me. I smiled down at her, in quiet wonder of this tiny bundle. Sitting down in the old wooden rocking chair, I sang soft lullabies to her, until sleep had inexorably closed the lids of those blue eyes. I sat in the darkness, feeling her little breath against my chest, and rested in gentle contentment.
Around this scene of mother and child the night wrapped a soft blanket of sleep.
I placed a second picture on the wall, from the evening my mother had come in and found Amy and I asleep in that old rocking-chair.
I didn’t know that sunshine sounded like ringing laughter.
Amy ran over, a bunch of flowers in her hands. “Mommy, mommy!” She called, tugging insistently on my skirt. I looked down from my conversation and grinned, amused at the sight Amy presented. Her brown curls were blown every which way in the wind, her 5-year old knees were covered in dirt and grass stains, and her bunch of dandelion’s were held so tightly and so bunched that they were little better than squished stems.
“I love them!” I declared, and scooped up the toddler, spinning her around and around until she squealed with delight. “Higher, higher!” She cried, laughing out loud to the open sky.
I straightened the frame and smiled at the picture of the two of us playing at the park
I didn’t know the friends you would make.
Amy rummaged around in the box. “Here, try these on Sarah!” She declared, and her friend giggling put on the high-heels, many sizes too big for her 10-year old feet. Amy put her hand on her hip, and cocked her head, telling her friend, “Now spin around, so I can see how they look.” Her friend willingly complied, but, unfortunately the heels and the long, borrowed dressed clashed to the point where they caused the model to trip over, knocking over the fashion-designer-to-be in the process. They landed in a tousled heap of dress-up clothes, play jewelry, and little girl curls, but the peals of laughter could be heard throughout the house.
I laughed as I hung the picture of Amy and Sarah, all made up in their borrowed finery.
I didn’t know how you would love and help people.
Amy lay on her stomach on her bed, only her eyes and her thumb moving as she scrolled on her phone. Her brows knit together as she read Sarah’s post, “Everything is terrible. I don’t know why I even keep trying. It’s not worth it anymore.” He eyes widened, and she quickly dialed her friend. As soon as the phone picked up, Amy blurted out “No, you’re amazing, and beautiful, and wonderful, and sweet, and funny, and great, and don’t you dare do anything, are you ok?”
Sarah broke into sobs, and threw the box of pills away onto the floor. Amy kept her on the phone as she drove over to her apartment to spend the night with her, making sure that she had help.
I placed the picture of Amy’s college graduation on the nail, thinking of where their paths had taken them. Who would have know that there was a New York Times Best-selling Author there hugging my daughter, laughing and holding their caps as they almost tripped over their black gowns?
I didn’t know how you would sparkle when he was around.
Fastening the pearls around my neck, I looked in the mirror. The woman there was gaining wrinkles around her eyes, but I wasn’t paying attention to her, but rather watching the two young ladies — where had the time gone? — getting ready behind me.
“Nervous?” Sarah asked, as she put the finishing touches on Amy’s outfit.
“No — Well a little — But not really — But –,” Amy smiled at the ground, blushing. “I’m just so excited that it’s finally here, to finally be with him.”
“Aww, you and Matt are so sweet together!” Sarah declared, and stepped back, inspecting her work.
I brushed away the tears as I looked at my baby girl, so grown-up now.
“Oh, don’t cry Mom!” Amy said, hugging me, blinking away tears herself. “Because if you cry, I’ll cry, and then we’ll both just be an emotional mess!”
“I know — it’s just –” I took a deep breath and smiled. “Ok. I think I’m good. Are you ready?”
I watched as Amy opened the door and walked out. All eyes were on her, but Amy looked only at Matt, and he at her. She beamed, she glowed as she walked towards him in her white dress, and Matt almost pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t in a dream.
Finally – O long-awaited moment!—Amy was by his side, and in front of all their friends and family he took her hand in front of the pastor.
Happy tears still whelmed up as I thought of the two of them, and I hung right in the center of the wall the picture of the sacred moment after the pastor had said, “You may now kiss the bride.”
I didn’t know how you would encourage others to be better.
Matt slammed the door of their apartment, and it hit and bounced off the bent doorjamb, just like it did every time. He sat down on the side of their large bead, burying his face in his hands.
“Hey, what’s wrong, I heard you come in…” Amy asked, sitting down beside him.
“I can’t do this!” he declared, hitting his knee in frustration. “I can’t stand all this tedious work! It’s the same thing day after day, just typing out papers, sitting in that stupid little box, and there’s no end! It’s enough to drive a man insane!”
“This wasn’t what I wanted to do with our lives, Amy! I wanted to do something big, to do — to do — something — anything! Anything besides sitting in this office every day, chained to a desk!” Amy put her hand comfortingly on his back. “Do you remember the plans we made?” He asked her. “I was going to be a famous lawyer, and to make a difference, to help people!”
“Then why don’t you?”
“Go, start that firm you’ve always talked about. I’ll support you all the way.”
“Really?” Matt asked, gazing intently into her blue eyes.
Matt grinned, picked Amy up, and swung her around. “Here’s to Bradford and Co.!” he declared laughingly.
I placed beside the wedding picture the framed newspaper article, talking about how Bradford and Co. had won their big case in front of the state Supreme Court.
I didn’t know you would start new stories.
Matt jumped out of the red car, rolling his eyes good-naturedly at the papers and magazines Amy always had scattered across the back-seat, and grabbed the picnic basket. Amy followed him more slowly, a little out of breath from the climb up the grassy hill. They sat contentedly watching the sun go down, as they chatted and ate. Matt soon sat on a nearby rock, and began peacefully strumming the guitar he had brought.
“Matt, do you enjoy it being just the two of us?” Amy asked quietly.
“Of course I do!”
“So will it bother you when there’s one more?” She asked with expectant, smiling eyes.
Matt sat puzzled for a moment, and then suddenly his eyes lit up with shock, surprise, and joy. “You’re—you’re–?”
Amy nodded, her blue eyes sparkling as she smiled immensely.
I didn’t know
Matt stood up off the rock he had been sitting on, and walked back to his white pick-up, carrying his guitar and the small bag he had put his dinner in. He placed both in the empty back seat, which he always kept clean.
The door smoothly opened and closed as he went into his apartment. He laid his office clothes by the end of his little bed. He had another meeting tomorrow, and he would have to sit in his cubicle all day.
The picture of their wedding and their success were taken down, thrown aside.
I didn’t know how it would be.
Sarah poured out her pain and emptiness to her computer. “Everything is terrible. I don’t know why I even keep trying. It’s not worth it anymore.” She sat there alone. The box of pills was right there. Her phone sat beside her, and she wondered, “Does anyone even care?”
But the phone sat silently. No one called.
Sarah and Amy’s laughing faces were stripped off the wall and tossed into the pile.
I didn’t know how it would go.
Amy ran over, a bunch of flowers in her hands. “Mommy, mommy!” she called, tugging insistently on her skirt. But she didn’t turn around.
“Mommy?” Amy, backing up, looked up at her mom. She finished the conversation, and walked towards the toddler.
She walked right through her.
She walked away as Amy looked after her retreating figure, and faded away.
The picture of the two of them laughing, of the two of them sleeping together in the rocking-chair, of the little wrinkled face of the baby were torn off. They lay on the floor. Frames bent, glass shattered.
I didn’t know the rest of the story.
The notification popped up on my phone, “Appointment, 2:30.” I sat there in my car, transfixed by that glowing bubble of text. Finally, steeling myself, I pressed the “ok” button. I pulled out the keys, opened my door, and walked into the clinic.
“I’m here for my abortion appointment.” I told the nurse.
The white wall stood empty, the words “Our Story” fading slowly away. It was blank.
Nothing would ever be the same
I didn’t know.
Please, don’t let the story end before it ever starts.
To contact or support agencies that advocate for both child and mother visit Save the Storks or Students For Life or many, many other programs. But simply money itself can never help brokenness. Only love, only hands, only people — people themselves — can do that. Many places have Pregnancy Centers, which quietly and bravely are helping women every day, despite low funding, low supplies, and most crucial of all, low staff. Please, contact your local center (which you can locate here) and see how you can help to make sure every story has a chance to be told.