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Hate is a choice, sort of.

Six months flew by while I wandered aimlessly around in my life, not really living it. I just had my feelings. I knew only a few things to be true.

I hated my sister. I also hated my mother who so quickly told me that I had to forgive my sister. I hated that other people got to smile as they walked through life and I just got to feel, well, hate. I hated that I felt a darkness and rotting inside, but no one could see that immense issue. If I wanted them to understand why I was angry, I’d have to speak about that ugliness and pain. I could not do that.

I mourned for my dead baby. I felt guilty for mourning a dead baby that was never inside of me. Then I felt stupid for mourning for a baby that I’d never felt move or even had the slightest change in my body at all. And then I raged against the unfairness that someone could just murder your child with full legality and all you could do spectate. I raged at a God who could form the entire universe, but didn’t feel the need to stop this woman from killing him. As a final slap to my hurt was that I wanted to bury my baby. Facing the fact that he was just medical waste put me over the top. I was brokenheartedly aware that I had no claim to him, at all; so even if I had pursued finding his body/parts, my request would have been denied.

Here is the good that came from those 6 months.

I did not want another baby at all. I didn’t want to see pregnant women or new babies. I had no intention of every holding another baby so my yearning was gone. (Yearning for a baby you cannot conceive is heart-wrenching as well...and my heart goes out to any woman who is not able to have a baby when she so desperately wants one.)

I saw a new, clear value to why my husband always was warning that snakes are snakes. “You shouldn’t be shocked when a snake bites you when you let it get near you.”

I knew my sister was a snake. She had been biting me since she was little. She was still biting when she was 13 and I was 19 with a new baby and a fresh marriage. I had to drive 5 hours to stand in court and petition to let me be her guardian instead of placing her in a juvenile detention center. It was stupid and naive of me to do this, but she needed me and I was the only real mother that she knew. Three months later when she stole our pickup, drove it onto a main road, wrecked it and thought she could keep it a secret from us, I felt the deep-penetration of her snake-like fangs and distanced myself from her. “We don’t bite,” I should have chastised.

Even though 8 years had passed since she had lived with me, I saw the parade of people she had been biting in that time. Why was I shocked by what she had done and why had I even set myself up to be bitten again? I knew she had been a snake and she was still living the life of one. The only person who should have been shocked by her bite was Jackson.

That’s it. Good is OVER!

While we are discussing venomous bites, let me fully disclose to you what pushed her over the edge to that appointment. The name, Jackson. I had lovingly chosen that name out of circumstances and with family being honored. The name was also surfacing in society as common for a first name, so it wouldn’t be odd unlike what Micheal first suggested for our first little. “Let’s name him Augustus and call him Gus like Augustus McCray.” I rolled my eyes. He was not going to be a cowboy or live in Lonesome Dove.

My sister had originally declared this an unexpected pregnancy. Later, she had mentioned raped. As the weeks passed and our communication opened up about what we wanted to do with this baby, she updated her story to say that her boyfriend had actually raped her when she was unwilling to have sex with. I did not ask any questions. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe her, but I was afraid that if I asked anything, she’d tell me that she was still with that guy. Or she would tell me some other part of some truth that I would not stomach very well. Or she would tell me a lie. I simply told her that I was very sorry that this had happened.

We were sisters in an odd, unhealthy type of manner our entire lives. While I wanted her to feel some bit of happiness at the amazing choice she was making for us, she had requested that things not be awkward between us. I wanted to provide her with the support she had needed when she had her first two. She wanted me to celebrate the arrival of my new baby with her just like I had when I was expecting my first two. (I should have known better.)

So I was utterly glowing when I told her, “We’ve chosen a name. I know we don’t really know if he is a he, but with all that popped up this weekend at our youth revival, we know his name...Jackson Levi.”

Her face flashed with white. She stammered. She asked, “Why would you choose that name?” I thought she was having a pregnancy stroke since it was obvious--Jackson was our grandmother’s maiden name. I couldn’t think fast enough to reply but I know my face must have looked puzzled.

“The father’s last name is Jackson," she breathed.

What do you do with that? I didn’t know then, and I don’t really know now. Was God telling me that I had chosen a very fitting name? Did my sister think she had hidden something and was found out? Did she think I was a mean person who had some how found a way to play a trick on her? I still don’t have those answers, but she had the abortion just 4 days later. And it was the only real, tangible memory I could retrieve to explain her behavior since she had acted so scared or shocked with the announcement of his name.

Jackson Levi died on March 16, 2006 sometime before midnight. We held a private memorial service for him inside our church a week later with only two of our friends present. My boys placed special gifts and treasures in a tiny cedar box to honor their baby brother. My prayer journal was placed inside with the few things I had bought in anticipation of his arrival. To this day, it sits in the cabinet closest to my bed. For many years, I would add things to the box. I would reread the words I’d written to Jackson and words I had prayed to God for both Jackson and his birth mother's safety.

One day, a few years after his death, I opened that box and for the second time in my life, I sobbed.

Somewhere along the way through the valley of the shadow of death, I grabbed a hold of hate because it was the easiest and most justified emotion that I understood. I made that choice, sort of.

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