On August 30, 1994 I walked into the Crisis Pregnancy Center at 1:00 PM. I remember how scared I had been to make that appointment, but I was even more scared as I walked into that little house in downtown Rochester. I remember what I wore: a navy romper, from The Limited, that zipped up the back and white Keds. It was my Freshman year of college, I was 17 years old, and I had never felt so alone in my entire life.
I checked in, and they ushered me to a room in the back. They asked if I had brought a “sample” with me, and I handed over the brown, paper lunch sack. They used the contents to perform the pregnancy test, and then I met with Mary. I remember her being older, maybe in her forties, but mostly I remember that she seemed kind. She handed me the test, and there were the two pink lines. The tears came faster than I could keep up with and Mary promptly grabbed the tissue box that was sitting on a nearby table and some sort of Time Life book.
My mind was reeling. How could this be? What was I going to do? How was I going to explain this to my Dad?! I had already endured so much in the last two years. My parent’s divorce, my emergency trip home from Ecuador, all the doctor appointments and surgery trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and missing a lot of my senior year from being sick. Now I get to add one more thing to the family name, and it wasn’t pretty. All the while, sweet Mary was flipping through the pages of this book telling me about the life growing inside of me. Then it occurred to me, I was at the “Crisis” Pregnancy Center. She was trying to convince me to chose life. I explained that I was going to keep my child, but that my crisis was telling my Dad, facing the music, owning my actions.
Then she did the best thing she could have done. She put her arm around me and sat quietly. With my head lowered, I sobbed and sat in my crisis with Mary. There was no judgement there, no agenda, no advice. She sat with me in my pain, in the moment where I needed to know I was not alone.
Every year, on my son’s birthday, I look through a photo album which contains a card from the Crisis Pregnancy Center and a few notes about that day, and I thank God for Mary.