Pure. Air. Beautiful.

Kathryn means pure, and most would say she was named well. She was in my first youth group in the mountain town of Highlands, NC. That group was incredible. A core of less than a dozen kids who came from strong homes, they were passionate in their pursuit of God. I replaced the youth pastor who loved them like one of his own and these kids decided to love my family like he had loved them. They were as tight as a French braid, so much so that they were scorned in the tiny local high school. Considered radically conservative, Bible toting, church kids they were ideal students and a young youth workers dream.

Kathryn was a vocalist in the student’s band and her love for singing poured into her love for theatre. I didn’t know what she was singing (It’s in Italian.), but Kathryn loved to perform a playful, hyper dramatic rendition of Andrea Bocelli’s song ”Time to Say Goodbye.” A few years after her graduation, for Kathryn, it was time to say goodbye to her reputation and her identity.

She was living in Atlanta working in the hospitality industry. There are buildings in Atlanta with a higher population than Highlands. She found a place, found a man, and eventually found herself in a tough position. Kathryn was pregnant. Pure no more.

How would she tell her father? What would her small town friends think? Her reputation would be tarnished, her identity scarred. How does the all American, quintessential church girl tell those who love and support her she’s become a statistic?

Half a century earlier and halfway around the world a young pregnant woman was in the hospital for an attack of appendicitis. This was her first child, she had to be scared. The medical staff treated her stomach with ice before the doctors offered their advice, “Your baby’s likely going to be born with a disability, the best solution is to abort.” The young mother, likely lying on a gurney with ice on her pregnant belly, was asked to consider killing her child. Her world had to be spinning. However, the brave, young woman rejected their advice and gave birth to her first son. The day was September 22, 1958.

September 2011, Kathryn found herself on a hospital bed, scared out of her mind and overwhelmed with anticipation and joy. It’s the paradoxical emotion of every mother in labor. In the age of abortion, Kathryn’s pregnancy was one that typically ends that way. It was impractical, unplanned, and in most cases unwanted. But Kathryn is far from typical. A poor choice in January was followed by maturity, wisdom, and courage. Maturity, wisdom, and courage were followed by a six pound, two ounce darling little girl named Aria. Aria means air.

I want to live like this with the sun on my face, and I sing happily, gracefully. I want to live like this, with the air of the mountains, because this enchantment doesn’t cost anything.

Those lyric’s come from a song Andrea Bocelli sings to his children. He played it for an audience after sharing that the aforementioned mother with appendicitis was his mother, and the baby the doctors wanted to abort was him. Andrea and Aria had uncommon pregnancies. Andrea and Aria had uncommon mothers. He said, “The song is beautiful because it’s a joyful song that expresses happiness.” I say that’s why these mothers are.

Before he played, he shared his heart, “Maybe I’m partisan, but I can say it was the right choice. And I hope this could encourage many mothers that sometimes find themselves in difficult situations, in those moments when life’s complicated, but want to save the life of their baby.”

I share his hope.

Kathryn and Aria just days after her birth. Pure. Air. Beautiful.

 

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