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"Grace"

Sometimes 13-year-olds cannot avoid life's biggest questions

by MIRIAM STELLA

If I remember correctly, it was a Monday, February 11th. I was on my way to school, and almost to the corner where my best friend Grace and I always met. We would walk the rest of the way to school together.

When we met up, Grace looked awfully sad. This was different for her, because she was always smiling. I guess that's why we fit together so well. We were like two peas in a pod, me and Grace.

We'd known each other since we were three. Grace was very pretty. No, she was more than pretty and

more than beautiful. I can't exactly think of the word to describe her. She could have any guy in the whole high school if she wanted. But right now she just didn't look her usual self.

"Are you okay?" I asked. No answer. "Grace," I asked again, "are you okay?" That's when I noticed tears running down her cheeks. I didn't know exactly what to say. "No," she said in a big sob and threw her arms around me and cried and cried.

I just let her cry. Then I said to her, "Do you wanna talk?" I knew I couldn't be late for class. Mrs. Crow said if I was late once more she'd have to have a talk with my parents. And boy, I didn't want that. Grace interrupted my thoughts by saying, "We can talk at study period. I don't want to make you late again." "Okay," I answered. We always could sort of tell what the other was thinking.

I was anxious all morning for study period to come. I couldn't imagine what had happened with Grace. Maybe David, her boyfriend, who she claimed she would always be with, had broken up with her. Just then the bell rang and everyone was filing out of class.

I made my way toward the courtyard and sat down beside Grace.

She got right to the point. Grace said that she and David had decided that they wanted to make their relationship stronger. Well, I thought that couldn't be too bad. But the next half of her story took me totally off guard. The thing that she and David had decided to do got her pregnant! She had just found out Sunday. Grace had decided that she would go ahead and have the baby. When it was born she would put it up for adoption.

I just sat there. I couldn't believe what I'd just heard. I wanted to say something, anything to her. I couldn't speak with the big lump in my throat. The rest of the day Grace avoided my eyes. On our way home from school we didn't talk. When I got home I talked to my mom about it. Mom said all I could do was pray and be a friend to Grace.

I went up to my room and prayed for my best friend. I didn't understand how she could do something like that. She would have to buy maternity clothes and wear a maternity dress to the prom. It was so sad.

As Grace got further into her pregnancy, things got harder. It was harder for me because I was her best friend. When Grace hit ten weeks of pregnancy, she was really having trouble. She was sick a lot and having lots of pain. Grace had to get a tutor because she couldn't go to school. One day we were sitting on Grace's porch just talking when Grace told me the most terrible thing that I'd hoped and prayed that Grace would never say.

"Ellie," she said, "I've thought about this for a long time. I'm having a lot of trouble with this pregnancy. I ... I've decided that it would be better for me if I had an abortion." There was silence for a few minutes after that.

I wanted to cry! I wanted to tell her she couldn't do it! That this was an even bigger mistake than the mistake that got her pregnant. I hated abortions! Having an abortion is like saying that you don't respect human life at all. God gave life and only God has the right to take away life.

Grace interrupted my thoughts. "Ellie, I've made up my mind. I know how you feel about abortions and how you say it's murder and everything. I'm sorry, but I just don't see it your way." The next thing I knew, Grace was walking into her house and closing the door behind her.

I guess Grace and I always had a difference of opinion about religion. I was Catholic and she was atheist. We had lots of arguments on whether God was real or not. The results always came out Grace still being atheist and me still believing in God.

When I got home, I went up to my room and cried. How could anyone not want a precious little baby. I'd seen lots of babies. They were all so beautiful. I read an article once that said what different parts of aborted babies doctors from around the world ordered. It disgusted me. Some doctors ordered "whole intact legs, including entire hip joint, 22-24 weeks gest." What kind of people actually buy parts of aborted babies?

I prayed hard that God would give me wisdom about what I could say to Grace and how to make her change her mind. I talked it over with my mom. Again, she gave me the advice to pray. She said that Grace changed her life for the worse the moment she made that first decision with David.

The next day my mom met me at the door. She said that she had something important to tell me. "Ellie," my mom said, "Grace's mom called me this morning. Grace had a miscarriage at home. Her mother told me that while they were waiting for the ambulance to come, Grace sat there holding the baby looking lovingly at it. She said that Grace counted the babies ten perfect little fingers and toes as if she realized just what she held in her hand.

But the most important thing was, Grace kept saying over and over, "Ellie was right. Ellie was right."'

Just as I started to go up to my room to sort this all out, my mom said, "Ellie, Grace named her baby, Anne."

Miriam Stella of Hanceville, Alabama, is a 13-year old member of Sacred Heart Parish in the Diocese of Birmingham. Her story placed first in the Cullman County Penman Writing Contest in the 7-9th grade division for short stories in public schools. It was published in the National Catholic Register June 10-16, 2001.

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