By Martina Casey
In Tractates on the Gospel of John, St. Augustine says that “the confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works,” so here it goes:
Twelve years ago I was working for a prestigious investment bank. A kid from a backwater village a world away living in New York City with a great job, lots of friends, and a handsome fiancé. Life was good, in the worldly sense. Inside I was spiritually bankrupt and depressed. The faith of my childhood was a distant memory.
I worked with a team of likeminded go-getters. Our god was our career, paycheck and the fat end-of-year bonus. I also had a few additional idols but that’s another post.
In a world where people are dispensable, new and old coworkers came and went. One day, another newbie. She was a young woman who joined the group from our sister team in a different country. She was gregarious and hard working. Her fun disposition and anything-goes personality was a welcomed change to the button-up male dominated culture of our office. As weeks passed to months we became friends. We connected over being foreigners and over our love for tea. She didn’t have any family in the City and was soon adopted by my fiancé’s family.
They lived upstate New York on 14 acres that included a barn, next door apple orchard and all the charms that drew New Yorkers away from the City. We’d drive up together once a month or so and spend the weekend sipping tea, enjoying nature and shopping.
And it was during one of those shopping trips that she dropped the news, we were in a department store looking for a tea pot, I think. “I’m pregnant,” she said. I remember the oddest details of that moment; the strange fluorescent lighting, the upbeat music playing in the background. I remember she avoided eye contact keeping her eyes fixed on an item she was holding. And I remember the feeling in my gut. After collecting my thoughts, I awkwardly blurted a worldly “OMG, but how?” As if I needed an explanation. But, really, what I meant was “why didn’t you use any protection?” After all, we were responsible career women living the feminist dream.
A flood of emotions ensued: first, confusion: Who’s the father? She wasn’t dating anyone. Judgment followed: seriously, why was she so reckless? (In our world babies weren’t the gift from God that they are, they were, in fact, the result of reckless sexual conduct.) And then, once she told me the father’s name, anger. How could you sleep with one of our coworkers? Yes, he worked in another building, but we interacted with him daily; emails, calls and meetings.
None of this I expressed verbally but my facial expressions must have spoken louder than a thousand words. She started crying. Then, the dreaded question: “what should I do?” She didn’t need to explain her options. It was an unspoken: “do I abort the baby?”
I wish I could tell you that I said “keep the baby.” But, I’m afraid, the title of this post gave that away already. Yet, would you believe me if I told you that all I wanted to say is “keep the baby.” Scratch that, all I wanted to do is scream “keep the baby.” In all of my spiritual bankruptcy and heathenism, the Catholic faith of my childhood must have been written on my heart. Unfortunately, the voices of the world prevailed, and I kept silent. To say “keep the baby” would have betrayed my own feminist lie. We were educated and liberated women working in a male dominated field. To have a baby out of wedlock, with a coworker to boot, was career suicide.
And so, I said “that’s a hard decision,” as if I was talking about a difficult but equally intriguing menu item at a restaurant, and not a human being. Our drive home was silent. She spoke. I spoke. Everything that needed to be said was said. We knew what she needed to do.
You see, that day she needed a friend, but what she got was a callous and calculated coworker who was more worried about her friend’s career and reputation than a human life. Two lives I should say because a couple of weeks after her abortion I came face-to-face with the devastating consequence of her decision.
My fiancé’s family was throwing a party, she was invited. It was at a restaurant with the usual open bar. I didn’t realize how drunk she was until after the party was over and we were driving to the house. As we got to the house she immediately ran to the bathroom. I went to check in on her a few minutes later but she wasn’t there. I went to the guest room where she was staying. I knocked, then opened the door. She was curled up on the bed holding a stuffed animal, a bunny, sobbing and repeating “my baby.” The intoxicated state opened up the wound, she couldn’t contain the pain anymore and that’s when the somber reality hit me: she killed her child and I was a co-conspirator.
Our friendship was never the same. How could it be? Nothing was ever the same. A few months later I quit, and a few months after that she requested a transfer back to her home country. We stayed in touch in a way you stay in touch with a coworker, there was nothing left of our friendship. Every few months we’d check in and finally after I had my son she stopped responding altogether.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh,” (Ezekiel 36:26). The Lord’s work is far from over in my life, but I see what He’s done. In His love and mercy, He reached into my nothingness and took my heart of stone and is transforming it into something resembling a heart of flesh. I’m totally unworthy.
This weekend as we at the Sisterhood of Catholic Women and Adolescents are getting ready to pray and witness for the 40 Days For Life Campaign I’m overwhelmed at what the Lord has done in my life. He has taken me from a co-conspirator of death to a warrior for life.
Will you please join me this coming Sunday, November 3rd to pray for my friend, her child, and all our sisters currently in her situation. Come by to say hi and pray with us, click here for more information.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla pray for us.