I have been an artist my whole life. I have had periods of manic creation, often staying awake until all hours of the night in order to finish my vision on canvas. I have had long and painful periods of non-productivity, lack of desire to create, sometimes a strong desire to create but no energy to do so. In periods of creative drought, I have sought to glean inspiration from other sources and in other ways. But three and a half years ago I was given the greatest gift of inspiration and creation that I could ever receive. That was when my greatest masterpiece came to fruition, my son, Jack Christopher-Chi. The light of my life, the beat of my heart, the sun in my sky.
He almost wasn’t here at all, sadly to admit. His father nearly convinced me to abort the pregnancy and I would have, had my ultimate Mentor, the Master Creator, not intervened. It was a time in my life when I felt the most pervasive sense of fear to date and yet once I reached that place of total and stark apprehension and aloneness and went to God and admitted complete surrender, was I able to receive the warmest and most completely encompassing sense of peace that I ever known. The night before I was to allow the life inside of me to be destroyed, I had an awakening that shook me to my very core. They say God doesn’t move from us, it is we that move away. I found my way back, thankfully.
Before I tell you what happened, some background needs to be established for the purpose of understanding the trepidation I felt and how I came to allow God to help me. For a few years before becoming pregnant, I had begun to wonder where my life was going to lead me. I had my addictions from drugs and alcohol in arrest for several years and regularly attended AA meetings. I was actively involved in my community, often volunteering for a bereavement center that worked with children experiencing loss. I had lost my favorite person in the world, my uncle Jack, when I was 11. He died very suddenly from a burst aneurism in his brain, right in front of me while I was reading the book A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle. My world fell apart that night, in that bloody spot where he collapsed to the ground in the living room. After that night, everything changed. My mom left six months later and I began my love affair with the medicine cabinet, until I found alcohol and someone to get it for me at age 14. I got cleaned up at age 19, had a brief interlude once more at the age of 23, and have been sober ever since (I am 37 now). The process of sobriety has been gradual, slow, and often painful. My faith, from the time my uncle died, became extremely strained. I was in battle with God and myself until a few years ago.
I had been building my life back up, putting a career together as a therapist in a psychiatric hospital. I worked with art and children in a therapeutic setting and was OK with my life, except that something was always missing. I never felt loved. Earlier in my life, I had searched for that love in bottles, bags, and music but then I got sober and started looking for that love and acceptance in relationships; painful, destructive relationships. Sometimes I was the one who got hurt and sometimes it was the other person whom I hurt but all of it just left me feeling empty at the end.
I had reconnected with someone from my past, which made me realize that there was a reason why people from back then didn’t make it to my present and I should have left it that way. Being the impulsive person I was, I ignored all the red flags that immediately went up about this old friend and I rolled right over my own boundary lines. When a year into our relationship, he told me that he got someone else pregnant, I was so stunned and felt paralyzed. Instead of nursing my heart, I nursed resentment and went out and found someone new to take my mind off things. Hani was by no means “Mr. Right” but he was “Mr. Right Now” and he offered me distraction.
Two months into this new relationship, I went on a spiritual retreat with my AA sponsor to Graymoor. That cool September air and a mandatory two- day silence started to clear my head. I could feel the relationship that I had been repairing with God becoming a vast presence in my life. I wandered into the bookstore on the last afternoon of the retreat and I was drawn to a St. Anthony medallion. I can’t explain why, but I held the little package in my hands, reading the prayer for a miracle on the back, and I just had to buy it. Something compelled me. I said that prayer every day, sometimes a couple of times. The miracle I prayed for was for God to bring me the love of my life. And boy did He ever. I just didn’t envision it as a child.
The night before I took a pregnancy test, I had a dream that I was sitting in my old house in Brooklyn, in the bloody spot where my uncle died, and kittens were crawling all over me. When I woke up from that dream, I felt my uncle Jack’s spirit around me, just as I had so many times since his death, and I sensed that something was about to change. The little blue plus sign on the pregnancy test held me in suspended animation. I had been so irresponsible before in my life and never gotten pregnant. Hani and I used protection every single time and I here I was, pregnant. A second test confirmed a positive result and I felt removed from reality. There are no words to explain how I felt.
At first Hani was excited, making plans to work more because he wanted me to stay home. He said we should get married, first in American style and then in a Mosque. He told me that the baby would have to be raised Muslim and that’s when I began to feel worried. I am a Jew and I didn’t mind sharing faiths, although it was killing my father, but I didn’t like being told that I was going to HAVE to do anything. I did not agree to the marriage and then everything fell apart.
After a day of disappearance, Hani decided that he did not want the baby anymore and insisted that Allah told him to abort the baby. He said he would get some kind of pill from someone in Patterson, NJ and that all I had to do was take it and the baby would be gone. I began to panic. He became obsessed with this idea and seemed like he was out of sorts. He began getting drunk and talked about killing himself. It was like he was possessed. For several days, he pressured me and I agreed. However at seven weeks, we had our first sonogram. As the doctor spread the cool jelly all over my stomach, I tried to believe that maybe the baby would just be gone by itself. Surely God would not give me a pregnancy and then put me in a position to destroy it, would He? I couldn’t reconcile how God could have allowed me to have a taste of true happiness only to ask me to give it back.
The sonogram showed a little black peanut, which the doctor said was the fetus. Then I heard a sound that I will never forget. It was the most beautiful music I ‘d ever heard. It was the sound of my child’s heartbeat. I tried to fight back hot, stinging tears and looked at Hani to see if his eyes showed a change of heart, but his eyes showed nothing. He asked to leave the room and the doctor and I talked. I had explained that we were in conflict about the pregnancy and the doctor told me that if I were his daughter, he’d advise me to abort. I left that day feeling betrayed by everything, by life, by God in a way. I made the appointment for the abortion. And now I was about to betray myself.
So many things cross your mind when you are about to do something that will forever alter you. There was a line that I was about to cross and I knew that after doing so, somewhere in my head I was going to give myself permission to destroy myself again. There’s no doubt in my mind that I would have gotten drunk and high again after that. I got home that night and asked Hani to leave me alone. I called two of my close girlfriends, two women who have been through abortions and they both told me the same thing. They had never forgiven themselves even though they had both gone on to have children later. They told me they loved me and would support me in any way necessary.
I cried myself to sleep but not before begging God for the first time in my life, to save me. I literally asked God to wake me up, to speak to me in a voice I would hear, beyond any shadow of doubt, and then I drowned myself to sleep through tears and exhaustion. Somewhere around 2 or 3 a.m., I woke up to the screams of a man and a woman. The room was filled with their cries! It was as if they were standing directly over me and on both sides of my bed screaming at me, but not with words. I nearly jumped out of my bed, covered in sweat. I knew that God had sent messengers to wake me and I was. I was AWAKE. In my soul, I was awake. And I was going to have a baby.
I called Hani the next day and he agreed to come over to hear what I had to say. Wordlessly and without eye contact, he listened and then he left. That was the last I saw of him. For months I would lie in bed at night and freeze every time I saw my motion detector light flick on outside. I’ve watched too many crime scene shows in my life and I kept thinking I was going to end up like an episode of CSI, so I moved. The decision to have the baby filled me with peace and happiness. For the first time in my life, feeling that child growing within me, I felt love like never before. I felt acceptance like never before. I talked to God everyday about all of my hopes and fears.
The baby was born in June, healthy and perfect, in a short and natural childbirth. The moment he was placed into my arms, I knew I had met the true love of my life, the very thing I had prayed to receive. It was as if only we two existed in the delivery room, or on the planet, for that manner.
Some of my fears came true, as far as financial and emotional. I lost my job when Jack was six months old and I felt the weight of insecurity. Then my mom and I lost our apartment and had to move a couple of times. I fell in love with a man who broke my and Jack’s hearts last year. I lost my house again and then had to relocate completely down to Florida, with my brother. I’m just now, after six months, starting to piece it all back together and I am stronger than ever. Jack and I share a passion for art and we paint every day. Our work has been shown concurrently in a gallery down here in Florida and I was recently hired to teach Art in his Montessori school, which led to a full time position last month.
Recently, Jack has begun to ask me where his daddy is and that has been difficult. I have taught Jack to pray for Hani, just as I have taught myself to, because carrying resentment is no way to live. It’s a recipe for disaster. Just as I believe that God is love, and so he sent this child to me as proof, Jack will be raised completely engulfed in love and that’s all I want him to know. I have no eyes for the future, as far as a formed vision, I only hope that I can support us. I pray for God’s will everyday and have begun to write children’s stories in hopes that God will bless that path for me. Four years ago, I turned down my dream job because I was afraid that the money would not be enough. When I interviewed for that position, which was with a rescue site for animals and displaced children, a majestic Sica deer came right up to me and rested her chin on my outstretched hand. The interviewer told me she had never seen the deer do that before and offered me the job on the spot. I was pregnant at the time and was afraid to take a pay cut. I turned it down because I still was afraid to trust God to meet my needs. I have since learned to trust. There will always be provisions as long as I am willing to ask for help. I am willing today.
For resources about becoming a mother, visit www.birthright.org and www.birthingwisdom.com. For more information on spiritual retreats: www.atonementfriars.org, and if you believe you have a problem with alcoholism visit: AA.org.