This article was originally published in The Catholic News (Mar 2011). It can be found here.
It happened a long way from home.
About ten years ago, I was working abroad when an ex-girlfriend dropped by. We spent the day, and then the night, together. About two months later, on a Friday evening, just before heading home from work, I received an email from her. “I am pregnant” it simply said.
I remember not remembering much at all that weekend. Sleep was my escape. I must have slept through most of Saturday and much of Sunday morning. Each time I awoke, I would look at the screen hoping that there was no message, hoping it was all a bad dream. But those three terrifying words were always there, screaming silently back at me.
It was Sunday afternoon when I finally called my parents. They were the people I most wanted to talk to and, at the same time, the people I dreaded talking to most. But loneliness, isolation, helplessness, and desperation won in the end. I think it was my mother who picked up the phone. It was small talk at first. Then the hard talk. “Mum and dad,” I finally said, “I have some news for you, and it isn’t good. B came for a visit. One thing led to another. I slept with her and now she’s pregnant.”
In a long, awful silence, I awaited their reply. When it came, it was from my father. “Son,” he whispered, “it’s ok… it’s ok. It just means that we may be grandparents earlier than we expected.” With those impossible, grace-filled, mercy-drenched words of my loving, anguished parents, my journey home began.
Home first to Singapore. I arrived two weeks later to see my mother and father, and to see her. By the time we met, she had had an abortion. I felt so, so relieved. It’s sad but it’s done – it’s over – and it’s time to move on, or so I thought back then.
A few years later, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. In my heart he began whispering, gently, about the many dark things in my life that needed his light so that I could be healed and whole again. Broken, I asked for God’s forgiveness for my role in the death of my child. But would He give it to me? He answered through the sweet parable of the prodigal son. How far away from the Father’s heart I had been, and how good it felt to be in His arms. So for the second time, I was home again.
Years later, I heard about the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats. More than a decade has passed since it happened and it’s really over this time, I thought. Do I still need to go? I went anyway. Towards the end of the retreat, I was finally able to ask my aborted son for his forgiveness.
That night, I named him, I prayed for him, and I sang to him. That night, there was another homecoming and for once, I was the father. After all the years of fear, guilt, and shame, I could finally give my son a home in my heart and in my life.