We all have so many defining moments in our lives; things we experience that make us what we are and who we are.  A conscious, focused bit of self-examination can reveal quite a lot to us about why we think and feel the way we do.

I’ve had a rather large number of slaps up-side the head like this, all from God, or possibly my angel, bidding me to “Look!  Pay Attention To What You Are Seeing!”

One such incident occurred when I was a student nurse – I was both privileged and horrified to see a miscarried fetus.

Just so you know all the facts, before I became a mother and before I went to nursing school, I worked for Planned Parenthood in a small town in Utah.  I was very young, very modern, very-everything-80’s.  I was also very conflicted about the job I was doing – I just didn’t quite realize it at the time.

It annoyed me to schedule exams for 14 year old girls so they could get birth control.  Sometimes their mothers were with them, but most of the time they were alone or with friends.

It annoyed me to look up and hand over the phone number to the Utah Women’s Clinic, the only abortion provider in Utah.

Still, I was rather nonchalant about the whole thing.  It was a job, it paid the bills.

Ironically, besides me, the three women I worked with, a nurse practitioner, a public relations rep, and a board member, were all Catholic.

Four Catholics working for Planned Parenthood.

But back to the story.  There I was, student nurse at work in a hospital rotation.  One of my instructors called me back to the obstetrics department and when I got there I found her holding a stainless steel bowl with a blue towel in it.  I was afraid to look – who wants to see a placenta?  Ick.

But then I heard a wailing coming from just down the hall; a sound like none I’d ever heard before and in that instant I knew what was in the bowl.

My teacher pulled back the cloth, and there, nestled in the folds, was a perfect 5 month old fetus – a boy.  He was smaller than any doll I’d ever seen, and he was exquisite.  His mother was devastated.  She wasn’t hysterical, she wasn’t shrieking.  The sorrow in her soul was emanating from her mouth.

It changed me.  Just as another pivotal event that had occurred earlier in my life changed me, it happened quietly, softly, in my heart, in spite of the goings-on around me.

I won’t forget that baby, ever.  I’ll never forget the mother’s sorrow – it’s been over 20 years and the memory is fresh and vibrant in my mind.

I’m grateful for it.

Over and out.

P.S.  About a week before I was due to deliver my first child, I was fired, without cause, from that job.  I have no doubt that it was divine intervention that occurred, and that it was the beginning of my salvation.