Friday, September 21, 2012

Heroes: My Hero Chose Life

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be her for a day; feeling this unseen miracle growing inside me, growing with it – our hearts beating in sync, sharing the same protective skin and the same uncertain future.

She was nineteen when she chose life for me.

If I close my eyes for just a moment, I’ll be back where she was, twenty-two years ago, when the pregnancy test read positive, when her world stopped and her life changed forever.

 Would I be as brave as she was?
The Byrum Family

It takes courage to give up everything for someone you’ve haven’t met before. She didn’t know my gender or my name, what my talents or gifts would be, or whether I would have any at all. She couldn’t know if I would become her best friend or whether we would end up hating each other. About the only thing she could be certain of was the fact that if she brought me into the world, everything she knew would change, and if she chose to raise me, all stability would become nonexistent. The more I think about it, the less convinced I am that I would be as brave.

And that’s without the voices. Turning them up, I’m back in her nineteen-year-old skin in a maze that’s not ending, running into faces at every turn who are yelling different angles of the same perspective. Friends. Family.

“You’re too young.”

“You can’t have a baby and go to school. And work. And have a life.”

 “You don’t love the father.”

“Even if you somehow make it through all of this, what man is going to want to marry a girl with a child?”

She’s lying on her back, twirling patterns into the ceiling with her thoughts, her unclaimed hand resting on her swelling middle. I’m realizing that courage doesn’t rise during the absence of fear or confusing circumstances, but in the times between. It’s something that cannot be explained; yet somehow everyone understands it. It’s the thing that causes a soldier to throw himself on a grenade to save his, that inspires a little boy to end child slavery, that enables a grown man to work himself to exhaustion to keep a roof over his family; the same thing that breathes enough life into an unwed girl so she can in turn breathe it into her unborn child.

I think that’s why my mother is my hero. Not because she was brave, undefeated and prepared, but because she was frightened and fragile, defeated and unqualified, and she gave me life anyway. How could she have known that we would become best friends or that God would give her a husband and a family who would love me, too? That we would have the happiest lives? That she would become a woman of strength or that her story would change the lives of many and touch the hearts of many more? I’m feeling a bit emotional at the moment, so I think I’ll go find her. We’ll have tea and sit in our favorite sunlit chairs, Momma and me. She’ll tell me a story I’ve heard a thousand times, but I could hear it a thousand more.

By Sarah Elizabeth Byrum

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