There is no way to describe how a prospective grandparent feels when she first learns that the baby she has been knitting for and dreaming about holding isn’t coming after all. There had been a change of plans. One frantic phone call at 5:30 A.M. from an almost incoherent son and the only word clearly understood was, abortion. “I can’t hear you, I don’t know what you’re saying, you don’t know what your saying, you are not saying that”! A grandmother- to- be, barely awake trying to hold down her empty stomach contents while a steady stream of words gush forth instead. What is going on in her mind and when will it make sense? Why does she keep talking and telling him to listen to her? Why does she keep on insisting he must be wrong? Why won’t she hand the phone over to her husband who is by now wide awake and fully aware of the truth without having yet spoken to anyone? Because in relinquishing the phone she let’s a rational, no longer a grandfather-to-be grab the reigns and she knows when that happens the horse will most certainly run out of the barn. Her five extra minutes of denial are necessary because her mind has now entered self preservation mode. Then the phone changes hands and not easily either. Her husband just has to grab it because he sees that she is melting down. He also can hear the sobs of his son and he knows he has to be strong and he has to figure out now how to commence damage control in two different geographical locations.
By 7:00 A.M. the father of the grief stricken young man has booked a flight home for him. He becomes the master of efficiency and executes all arrangements via computer. There are a few more phone calls between father and son and all that is discussed are arrangements home. No longer a grandmother-to-be but just a woman who hurts for her child that hurts for his child begins to get his room ready for his arrival. There is much cleaning and rearranging of the room that is to be shared with a younger sibling. So much she can do to busy herself and focus her attention away from the baby. She slides eventually into the well known pattern of mothering and nurturing. A trip to the grocery store to get special food that her homebound son likes to eat. Laundry is caught up on. Vacuuming is done. An odd sensation starts welling up in her. It had started to happen in the grocery store. The feeling of being unreal and on the outside of everyone else around her. A feeling of disconnection and numbness. It lingers on into the next day as the family is driving to the airport to meet the plane that carries her son.
The waiting is excrutiating and the tears have been flowing since last evening. How can she look at him and still stay standing. His dad admonishes everyone to stay calm. He doesn’t want anyone to ask any questions when they see him. He explains this is going to be hard on everyone and especially on the son.” Keep the reunion low key and just gather his things off the luggage belt and exit the building”. Is furthur advice that they all try to follow. She knows this is the best way to go but then she sees him walking down the stairs. Right when she begins to bolt towards him she feels two firm hands hold her arms from behind. She hears her husband whisper, “let him come on his own and don’t run to him or he is not going to make it”. No one makes eye contact as they quietly say hello and grab his bags off the belt. She wants to touch him but she knows he is looking at the floor so he doesn’t fall apart. Finally, almost to the exit she slings her arm around him and puts her head on his arm and begins to crumble as he jerks away. “Mom, please just let me get to the car”. Finally, after the bags are in the trunk the whole group dissolves into sobbing. There is the heart wrenching conversation that takes place in the car on the way home. He gives as much information that he posseses. This was a surprise to him. He thought they were making plans for the baby. He thought she was happy. Each family had recieved the happy news not more than two months before.
Yet, a three day visit to the mother-to-be’s parents home alone somehow changed everything for her. That’s all anyone ever new. The young man couldn’t stay longer than one more day to somehow get information that would make sense of everything. In his mind there wasn’t any more information needed for him other than the fact that his first child had been ripped from his life when it was sucked from it’s mother’s womb. Fathers have no say in these matters. Grandparents are just somehow forgotten in the whole mess. Little by little life begins to go on again as it always does. Thoughts of the baby are never far away from the grandmother’s mind. She has to keep reminding herself that she isn’t going to be a grandmother yet. There is the knitting basket that sits in the corner of the room. A baby sweater half finished has been aborted on the same day the baby was. There is other yarn under there though. There are other projects she could start if she could just bring herself to touch the yellow sweater and slide it off the needles. She prays for help and asks God to please heal her family. Her prayers become the words of a barterer. “I promise to finish the sweater rather than destroy it if you promise my grandchild is in heaven”. She wants to know that there is a place for aborted babies in heaven. For three months she cries in the garden. Her husband keeps telling her she has to let it go. The “it” bothers her as she screams, “it was our grandchild”! Why can’t he understand that it was a baby that she had already attached herself too? Ofcourse, he did but he explained he had to turn it off in his mind in order to try to help everyone else that was falling apart. It made perfect sense that someone had to be strong. Years later she realized that he suffered more probably because he continually had to stuff it down in order to create some semblance of normalcy.
As she continues to pray and barter for a promise of healing and heaven. She watches her son spiral down into depression. He slowly comes back and begins to go out again. Her husband goes to work and comes home just like before the incident. She stays stuck. Then while working in the garden one day she realizes that she can believe in a God that would never abandon an innocent baby. Rather than picturing the baby in pieces in a metal dish she starts to see the baby whole and beautiful. She has a dream that the little baby boy is sitting on her fathers lap in a beautiful garden. Her father who has long ago left this earth is caring for her grandson. She believes that the dream has been a sign from God. He was a boy and he is fine. As a confirmation of her belief she picks up a garden angel and puts it under her dogwood. It is a symbol of her grandson and now the garden is his and she tends to it joyfully.
As the fourth month anniversary approaches Autumn begins to settle in. Gardening is winding down and activities are moving more indoors. She eyes the knitting basket and the needles that have been silent for so long. Almost reverently she gingerly picks up the free needle and lays it across her lap. She then touches the yellow yarn and the half finished baby sweater and the tears do come. The tears feel cleansing now and she knows instinctively what she must do. She knits the first row and then purls the second. The sweater now becomes something that she must finish. It was her creation for a baby that was loved. There was love for that baby already knitted in. The one thing that she knew for sure was that love could not be destroyed or ripped out of anything. There was love at the beginning when God created the earth and there will be love forever more because it is a growing thing. Her tiny yellow sweater became a celebration once again of new life and of hope for the future. It became something that represented forgiveness for the mother that chose to end her pregnancy. It was saved for a very special baby. She waited for the baby to arrive. It became a passion to wait expectantly for God to show her which baby this sweater belonged to.
Almost one year to the day of the frantic phone call from her son she lovingly wrapped the sweater. One last prayer offered for the sweater’s new owner. A baby girl born of a young immigrant woman with not much in the way of material goods. What she did not lack was an abundance of love and devotion for her child. The young mother had held a very demanding job right up until two weeks before the birth of her daughter. This sweater and it’s creator had finally reached the end of a long and difficult journey. Inextricably linked forever somehow even after it was wrapped around one of God’s newest creations.