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Ghost in the House: A Post-abortion testimony and poem

Priests for Life recently received a letter from Amanda, and a beautiful poem she composed about the effects of her abortion. Here are Amanda's words explaining why she wrote the poem, and then the poem itself.

Fr. Frank Pavone

I tried to do a couple of things with this poem. I tried to show the complexity and confusion of the grief of a woman in this situation. She cannot honestly say, "Oh, if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't do it." That's not true. Part of what makes her feel this way now is that she did do it before. She can say, "I would not now be able to do that again," but prior to her abortion, she did not have the grief or regret that led her to this point. So augmenting the straightforward grief of a woman who has lost a child, is the bite: put back before the act, before she really knows what she has done, the woman-she-was might readily do it again. And that is hard to bear.

I wanted to show, also, that neither the grieving nor the ghost ever go away. A little what-if will be with you always. Not dominating your life, not every day in your thoughts, but not ever leaving, not ever gone. And I wanted to emphasize that it was a child that was lost, a baby, who would have been a person.

Our society does not offer much solace, or even recognition, for women feeling this. It's politically correct to have a choice, but not politically correct to admit having chosen this. I've never met any woman who stood up to state that she'd exercised her right to choose by choosing to abort, or even one that would say it very loud. The politics of the Right to Choose are loud and public, but the realities are painful and private. A woman who has laid a child into a grave is extended every sympathy and support. A woman who mourns an abortion is alone, with a uniquely mufti-faceted and complex grief. A woman contemplating abortion should be warned of this.

 

Ghost in the House

Come, child. It's evening. Come to me

And sit with me once more.

Let's rock here while the others sleep.

Let's see -- your sister's four;

The baby is three months today;

Your little brother's two,

And I have not decided if I'll tell them about you.

 

And you, you would be eight this year.

I do not know your name.

The color of your eyes, or hair,

Or where, or how, to blame.

The fear was all, the fear of change,

For I saw change as loss.

Against my dreams, my plans, my life

You seemed so small a cost,

Not knowing how your presence

Altered how I felt and thought,

Not knowing how you changed me

In the mix the hormones brought.

And you were not a child to me

But sickness, pain, and fear --

But oh, I know, I know you now,

Now that these three are here!

Your scent, your weight within my arms,

Your head upon my breast -

I did not know these things when I decided what was best.

 

And I am lost and so confused

And don't know how to feel,

For you, who were an illness,

Every year become more real;

Your sister and your brothers,

They proclaim you as they grow.

They make it harder still to face

The coldest truth I know:

That knowing - feeling - only

What I knew and felt back then,

I cannot say I would not make

This saddest choice again.

 

Oh! My little lost unknown,

My first and neverborn,

Forgive the ignorance that sent you

To the dark, unmourned!

 

And no, it isn't every day

I find your shadow here;

Most times I'm far too busy

For reflection or for tears,

But sometimes, when the children sleep

And I have time alone,

I sit down in the dark, and rock,

And bring my baby home.

 

Amanda

Copyright 2000 Amanda

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
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