Amanda’s tears mingled with the rain as she walked. The park was near empty, which wasn’t surprising considering the drizzle. A young woman hurried toward her car, her arms full of picnic items. A toddler lagged behind, more interested in mud puddles than listening to her mother who shouted impatiently over her shoulder as she ran.
Personally, Amanda didn’t care about the rain messing up her hair or soaking her clothes. She'd had to come. She'd been coming every day for the past week. The park was the only place she could gather her thoughts and sort through her feelings. Amanda had a decision to make – a huge decision – and it needed to be made soon, before it was too late.
She'd also come because of the woman. Every day the woman was there, strolling through the park, stopping now and then to chat with mothers and their children or old men who sat on benches tossing bread to the birds. Amanda didn’t know who the woman was or why she felt so drawn to her. But she seemed to have something that Amanda was missing. Something Amanda desperately longed for. Joy. Contentment. Peace, maybe.
Amanda didn’t expect to see the woman that day. But there she was, sitting on the green bench near the swings. Feeling compelled, Amanda made her way over.
“I’m Lily,” the woman said, sliding over to make room.
“Amanda,” she said, and sat down on the bench.
The woman smiled. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, “but it’s raining. Must be something important that brought you out here today.”
“And you, too…” Amanda’s voice trailed off.
Lily cocked her head. “Something’s been troubling you,” she said matter-of-factly.
Amanda frowned. “How could you know that?”
“Let’s just say I’ve been observing you all week. I’m a pretty good people-reader.”
Amanda sighed. “I have a big decision to make. I think I’ve made up my mind but I came out here to think...to be sure.”
Amanda averted her eyes. “I’m pregnant,” she said, so softly she almost couldn’t hear her own voice. “My boyfriend – John – told me to take care of it. I’m almost eight weeks. I have to decide soon.” Amanda looked up, expecting to see disgust or judgment in Lily’s eyes. Instead, she saw compassion.
“He wants you to terminate the pregnancy?”
“And how do you feel about that?”
“We’ve barely graduated from high school. John and I are set to start college in two weeks - my parents have already dipped into their life-savings to pay for it. Plus, they’ve taken me to church and taught me about the consequence of premarital sex...they will be so disappointed...” Amanda was racked with guilt and shame and she wept openly.
Lily touched her shoulder and spoke gently. “You’ve told me what others want, but what about you?”
Amanda's voice quivered and she shook her head. “It’s just not a good time. I love John. If we could just wait a few years...ending it would be better for everyone. I mean, don’t you think God would understand? He would forgive me, right?” Amanda looked hopefully at Lily, this stranger to whom she was divulging her most precious secrets. She wanted her to say it was okay. That aborting the baby was the right thing to do. The best thing to do.
“Just because God forgives you, doesn’t mean He condones your decision.”
“The nurse said it’s no big deal - it doesn’t even take that long. John and I could go on like nothing ever happened.”
“You could. But would you?”
“You’re trying to talk me out of it!” Amanda wailed.
“No,” Lily shook her head. “I think you’re trying to talk yourself into it.”
Amanda swiped at her tears. “Give me one good reason not to end this pregnancy.” It was a challenge. She stared hard at Lily, daring her to respond.
Lily reached out and grasped Amanda’s hand, bringing it to rest on Lily’s belly, nine months swollen. At that moment, the baby kicked against her palm.
And Amanda had her reason. Suddenly, the decision of life or death wasn’t so difficult.
Amanda chose life.
*Epilogue: Something important had, indeed, brought both Amanda and Lily to the park that day: Me. My mother returned to the park several times throughout her pregnancy and never saw Lily again. Angel or human, God used Lily to reach the heart of a torn woman and rescue me from death.
My life is her legacy.
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