The Life You Save May Not Be Your Own
Lynn was born one day before me in 1958. Our mothers were in the small hospital together, and Lynn was one day old, when I came into the world and joined her in the nursery. When we started school together, I was the youngest member of the class, by that one day–something Lynn reminded me of often as we made our way through twelve years of school.
I thought of Lynn on Respect Life Sunday this year.
You see shortly after graduation, we lost touch. She went to college up north, I went to college down south. It was years later, when another of my former classmates wrote me to tell me some tragic news-Lynn had taken her life. It didn’t seem possible. She had been the valedictorian of our class, a good person, someone who always seemed to have a smile on her face.
My friend told me that drugs were involved. But there was more–she was pregnant when it happened. Some years later Lynn’s sister and I happened to be in the same airport and I asked her about her sister. She filled in the missing years, the troubled pregnancy, and the rest of the story.
You see when Lynn had committed suicide, the doctors kept her on life support, because her child was still alive, and it was only after the birth of her daughter almost three months after she had taken her life that Lynn was finally taken off of life support and died. Her daughter was adopted by her brother and his wife, raised as their own child.
The sad state that Lynn must have been in when she decided she could no longer go on, was not a state of mind that her unborn daughter shared–in fact, the fact is that her daughter wanted to live, and does today. The life that Lynn conceived in her womb, was a new life, a separate life, not her own life. The medical staff realized that when they received Lynn’s body and did everything they could to save her daughter’s life.
So when I heard a homily on respecting life today, I thought of Lynn and her daughter. I think real people make the issue of respecting life more real and less abstract.
I try to say a prayer for Lynn, whenever she comes to mind, I commend her to God’s mercy and love which is so much greater than the world’s. I’d ask you to pray for Lynn and her daughter. Say a prayer also for all those young people who struggle with drug addictions and depression–reach out to them if you cross their paths.
As for me, I remember Lynn laughing, when we both were young and I think about how her daughter probably looks a lot like that now.