“How long do I have to wait?”
“It says here three to five minutes.”
“What does two lines mean again?”
We ended up taking six tests. For an unmarried 18 year-old few things are scarier than the sight of two lines on a pregnancy test. He laughed (probably from the shock). I went cold, for I had made up my mind. After all, this was the United States and I knew where to find the nearest Planned Parenthood.
I had dreams to pursue. I liked this boy all right, but not enough to give up my entire life plan. Did I?
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
As we talked about our “choices,” the phone rang. His mom called to inform him that the baby she was expecting had been diagnosed with Trisomy 18. Meanwhile, Danny’s sister was also struggling to conceive after a series of miscarriages. The irony upset me .
Their mom was willing to stand behind her baby, despite a high-risk pregnancy and little statistical probabilities for survival, for life’s sake. She was living her faith in Love. I was living life in fear and selfishness. What about MY dreams?
As I’m typing this, my stomach turns inside out as I don’t even want to consider an alternative universe where my boy didn’t exist. He has the biggest heart and a brilliant mind. He is happy, funny and sweet. Everyone who knows him knows what a blessing he is to everyone around him. But more importantly, making the choice that he would live saved my life.
Danny’s youngest sister, Kelly Marie Murdock was born months later. Her short life had the purpose of showing me the meaning of love and sacrifice while giving an opportunity for their mother to witness in my life.
After the call, Danny dropped me home and told me to think about what I wanted to do next.
The next day he took me to Mt. Helix and proposed in one knee presenting a small heart shaped ring. The gesture meant everything to me, important people had quit on me before. Yet, he didn’t want to run away, or even if he did, he was willing to face any challenge for his baby and me.
He was asking me to change my decision from whether I would have a baby or not to whether I would do it with him by my side. Looking into his eyes I knew he loved me, but I was afraid. I didn’t want to multiply into my mistake by getting married. We had nothing going for us. Even if I was not going to have an abortion, I could go home and raise the baby on my own, or perhaps consider adoption, like my big sister had recommended on the phone.
We were both young; we were going to be parents; we came from very broken homes; we didn’t even have similar views in politics and religion; he was heading to boot camp; I didn’t have a green card; we spoke different languages (although at this point most of our conversations were Franklin free); and the worst and the most painful thing: It meant I would leave my family, my country and everything I knew for good.
Marrying him meant abandoning everything for this man and my unknown child, and giving up the life that I wanted to have for the one we would create. I told him I would think about it.
In bed at night, the words of God “I will never leave you nor forsake you” echoed in my head. For the first time, I prayed with all my heart: crying, longing for answers, wanting to believe.
Why Trisomy 18?
Why the miscarriage?
“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5 (NIV)
Next day I paged Danny 1, 4, 3. (I love you). He called me. I said a simple “I do.” “Pick you up at 8 to go to church?” he said. “Yes,” I said.
We had guilt written all over our faces, three days have passed since we found out we were going to be parents and we had not told anyone (except for my big sister who kept it a secret). Danny was excited to give the news to his family. I was terrified to call mine back home.
During worship I felt again the warmth and love that I felt during the service at the Baptist church four months ago.
Their pastor began speaking about faith and again I knew the message was directed at me:
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” This verse from Ruth to her mother in Law is a common one read at Christian weddings, yet it was the first time I heard it.
It was a confirmation that God had indeed prompted me to say yes to Danny. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,” my fears dissipated as He held me in His hands.
For the first time I had the confirmation He was after me, and I wanted to be caught. I invited Him in.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 1:13 (NIV)
P.S. His pursuit for my whole self from that moment on became relentless, with the culmination several years later with my surrender. We did start with a tumultuous marriage. From the brink of divorce, he restored us and renewed time and time again our love and commitment to each other. He has been transforming us and I don’t believe He is ever done. In fact in the past two months since I started Journey to Amor he has taken us to new Mountaintops and accompanied us through some very dark valleys of doubt and fear as we take on new challenges and summit our finances and career choices to His will. But in Him we find truth. Only this weekend I received His Joy, an experience that I thought beyond my possibilities and faith. I’m extremely grateful for His unending love and His continuous grace.
This is me, this past weekend at a retreat. Joyful, full of the Holy Spirit. Thankful.