“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us,” Alexander Graham Bell.
I’ll be honest about a couple of things from the get-go. Number 1: I never knew the second half of this quote until I Googled it this morning, but it seems very fitting. Number 2: I’m rather emotional today.
Maybe it’s because we’ve had to dig out of over twenty inches of snow over the past week; maybe it’s because we are finally all unpacked and settled into our new home in Kansas City; maybe it’s because Olivia’s back in preschool and I am back into the routine of working from home and speaking, but I’m feeling rather wistful today.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy. Truly happy. Our family is blessed to have moved to a city that we love, a home that we’ve made our own, to have neighbors who have shown themselves to be kind and thoughtful, and to have friends here that will continue to bless us beyond measure. I see the door that God has opened for us for our lives here, and I am incredibly thankful and excited. But today, as I write a letter to my grandfather back home in Sioux City, I find myself staring at the door that has closed behind us, and the tears are pouring down my face.
If I didn’t believe that God continues to work in the lives of my family, I could very well be staring regretfully upon the closed door of our lives in Sioux City for a long time. But I do believe in God’s continuing work in my family, so I won’t gaze longingly with regret upon that door. I will, however, let myself look sadly upon it today.
Just over five years ago, my father lost his life unexpectedly. As most know, I never had a chance to know my father or even talk to him, as he passed away before ever responding to a letter that I had sent him. Almost five years ago, my father’s family learned of the great secret that my father carried with him throughout his life and ultimately to his grave: the secret of the abortion that took place in 1977 and his daughter who had survived the abortion and was adopted. And thankfully, almost five years ago, my great aunt and my grandfather, after learning of the secret, came into my life.
If only tears could leave watermarks on my typed documents, you would see them now. I told you I was emotional today. Right now it feels like I’ve had five years of sadness and joy finally drop into my lap. Words cannot express what a joy it was to meet my great aunt and my grandfather, as difficult as it initially was. Words cannot express what it has meant to have them involved in my life, and in the lives of my family over the past five years. Words cannot express how much I miss them right now.
Even though we were all busy with our lives, there was always a sense of joy and peace in knowing that we were all in the same city, and that we would be seeing each other soon. If not for coffee, then for Olivia’s birthday or some other occasion that came up. And now, I don’t know when I will see my grandfather again. And I’m so afraid that somehow I will never see him again on this earth. And I feel like that door has closed for me. If I could turn back the clock and spend more time with him, I would. I am blessed to know that I will see my great aunt again sometime soon, but my grandfather, with his health and age, well, that’s a different story.
So today, I am staring longingly at the door to Sioux City that has closed, not only missing my grandfather, but reflecting on my entire family and the loss of my father. And I am sad. I am sad that we have all been touched and forever changed by the abortion that was meant to end my life thirty-five years ago. I am sad that not only may I never see my grandfather again, but I may never even meet my grandmother, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my half-sister. Although I can’t imagine how hard it was for them to be living in the same city with me, as they worked to come to terms with all that has happened in our lives and the secret that my father kept, I was somehow always hoping that living in the same city would lead to our paths crossing, if even by accident.
And now, here I am, hours away. No chance meetings in sight. And the tears start to fall again. There’s something painful in admitting that your family feels ashamed about what happened to you (even if they aren’t ashamed OF YOU), and that it has been an obstacle in getting to meet them. I talk about this quite plainly as being a ripple effect of abortion, but right now, it just feels subjectively painful.
Yet as I write all of this out today, it is cathartic. And as I work through these feelings, what I’ve gathered so far is that today, more than sadness about the door closing to my family in Sioux City because of our move, what I’m feeling is sadness at the door that has remained closed to them because of the abortion that should have ended my life and has forever changed theirs.
As I mentioned at the beginning, however, I trust in the Lord that he is continuing to heal my family. I don’t know what that healing is going to look like and what it’s going to result in (meeting some, all or none of them someday), but I know that He is working. And instead of gazing wistfully at the door that has been closed to them, I am setting my sights on the door that has opened, for them and for me. Maybe having me outside of their home community will help them in their healing process. Maybe God has something much greater in mind than a “chance meeting” with them. Maybe the next door is even greater than what I can even imagine.
To anyone out there today who finds themselves in a similar situation, I pray that you can set your sights upon the door that has opened for you, even though you may not know where, exactly that door leads or what it looks like. And for anyone, like me, who has experienced abortion how abortion affects your family, I pray for the continued healing of your family, too.