From the back of the chapel, I see the outline of David in the coffin, this exquisite being who taught me so much about life. I feel a mixture of sorrow and pride as people wait to pay homage, to share how David changed or impacted their lives. Rachel turns her head and our eyes lock, her face mirroring the same emotions I feel. We are two women bound by love for the man whose life was cut short.
I was there the day he entered this world, his tiny puffs of exhaled breath like angel kisses against my cheek. I was in the hospital room with his parents, Rachel and Paul, and his wife and children when he exhaled his last breath.
Except for the brief moments after his birth, David never met me. At twenty I felt I sacrificed everything to give him life. I was everyone’s darling, living a charmed life until the unthinkable happened.
I had recently become a Christian, in my second year of college, and engaged to my childhood sweetheart, Alex, when I had a flat tire on a dark deserted road. It happened when a man stopped to help. Alex and my family was supportive until I found out I was pregnant. Everything changed then. Despite everyone’s insistence that I visit a backstreet doctor, I chose to have the baby and give it up for adoption.
My family disowned me, Alex broke off our engagement, and the community ostracized me. In a fit of anger, my dad struck me. “Why?” he raged. “How can you have this baby? You’re ruining our lives and yours. Leave, and never come back.”
How could I explain when I didn’t understand it either? My pastor and his wife took me in. I dropped out of college. I cried so many tears during those months as the baby grew, begging God to reassure me I was doing the right thing.
My pastor introduced me to Betty, who arranged Christian adoptions. I had two stipulations. The adoptive parents had to be told the truth that this baby was a result of rape, and I wanted updates of the child’s life over the years. This baby had to be viewed as a gift from God despite how he came to be, and I needed to know that through his life, I had made the right decision.
I learned he was going to parents who were survivors of the Holocaust. She was unable to bear children because of atrocities done to her in concentration camps. They had prayed for a baby for years. They named him David. In the beginning it was Betty who sent me reports, but later, David’s mother, Rachel, began corresponding with updates and pictures.
David graduated high school with honors, went on to college and became a lawyer. He dedicated his life to helping others. He was active in the Civil Rights cause, led anti-abortion campaigns, and offered his legal services to those who couldn’t afford it. I cried when I saw him on a live television interview. When asked what he stood for, he replied, “For God, family, and every person’s right to be treated humanely and equally. To expose injustices suffered because of race or religion. And that every child conceived has a right to life. There’s a woman I’ve never met, but she chose life for me. Whoever she is, I’m grateful.”
He would die from a gunshot wound because of the work he was involved in. Rachel called me to come to the hospital. I had the chance to whisper in his ear, “I am she who gave you life. I’ve never been sorry.” Then he was gone. Rachel and I held each other, our hearts broken as our tears mingled.
Through choosing to give David life, I understood that true love would not have abandoned me like Alex did. Then God brought Aaron to be my husband. Through David’s life, I was able to eventually lead my family to the Lord. Because of David, I treasured my other two children all the more dearly.
Only God knows the purpose each life has. To Rachel and Paul who suffered atrocities that no human should ever experience, David was a gift from God. To the downtrodden, he was a voice of compassion and justice.
I hold my breath as the lid to the coffin closes. Exhaling, I remember David’s sweet newborn breath. I made the right choice. Aaron holds me tightly as I weep.
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