We’ll call her April. But that’s not her name. She sent me a letter which arrived in my mailbox on April 1. Hence, the pseudonym.
“I am 15 and I just had a baby…” the letter began.
I paused to get my reading glasses.
“…And my mom is angry and my dad is a preacher, they kicked me out… I’m scared and I have nowhere to go.”
Which isn’t technically true. April lives with her aunt in rural Virginia. She is still in high school, and she’s doing okay. Although she is fast losing confidence in herself.
“…I wish I could take back my mistakes, but I can’t…
“Why won’t my parents love my child? My daughter is not to blame for my sins. She is a beautiful girl. Can you offer me any words?”
Well, April, I cannot give you any poignant words because I am not smart enough. What I can say is that you are not the sinner you think you are. At least not any worse than me or, for instance, Pope Francis.
You’re a human being. That’s what you are. This is not a sin.
I can’t really say anything intelligent here because I don’t know what you’re going through. Neither do I know what you’re feeling. Nor do I know what it feels like to be a 15-year-old mother.
What I can tell you is this. I knew a girl who got pregnant at age 13.
You want to talk about a nightmare? My people were strict fundamentalists who did not believe in excess coffee consumption or mixed bathing. We were staunch Southern Baptists, which meant that we not only suffered from clinical constipation, but we actually enjoyed it.
The pregnant girl’s name was Jessica. She was not a bad kid. She was smart. She was funny. She was a straight-A student. She got caught in a bad circumstance, that was all.
She made one bad decision because—hello?—she was a child. And that’s what children do.
Even so. It’s one thing to have a baby. It’s another to have a baby before you’re in high school. Most of Jessica’s peers had recently graduated from reading Dick and Jane books. Meantime, Jessica was going to regular OB/GYN appointments.
I’ll never forget when Jessica showed up to church with a swollen tummy and a glowing face. I couldn’t believe the bravery she showed, walking into church like that. Wearing a maternity dress and flip flops. Knowing that everyone was going to be murmuring about her.
Even so, Jessica looked healthy. So full of life. So joyful. People treated her like she had plague.
A deacon asked her to leave the church.
There was a woman named Miss Delores, who met Jessica in the parking lot that Sunday morning. I’ll never forget it. I saw Jessica weeping onto the old woman’s shoulder. I have no idea what they were talking about. All I know is that Jessica was crying but good.
I don’t know what happened to Jessica after that. But I do know a few things.
I know the baby was born. I know Miss Delores was in the delivery room in lieu of Jessica’s parents. I also know that Jessica lived with Miss Delores.
Moreover, I know that Jessica raised her child, while finishing middle school and high school. And I also know that Miss Delores sometimes brought the child to school so Jessica could breastfeed between classes.
Something else I know? I know that today, Jessica has four kids. She is happily married. And she and her husband do pretty well for themselves. I found Jessica online, yesterday afternoon, after I received your letter.
I messaged her about you. I was afraid she wouldn’t see my message, but she did. Soon, I saw those tiny animated three dots, signifying that she was replying to my message.
“Hi Sean!” came the reply.
I asked Jessica if she had any advice for you.
“Yes, I do,” she said. “Tell her the holiest woman in the history of the world was a teenage mom.”
Write me anytime, April.
biglar48 - April 6, 2023 9:48 am
David in California - April 6, 2023 12:42 pm
How sweet the sound
Dee Thompson - April 6, 2023 3:10 pm
Beautiful! Becoming a mom at any age is stressful but teenagers who still have a lot of growing up to do deserve extra kudos. I actually addressed this exact same theme in my latest novel, Dancing in the Wreckage, available on Amazon.
iwaly444 - April 16, 2023 12:11 am
Boy you are blessed in coming up with the best words for folks.
The Blessings come from up on High, thru u.
All the very best, Sean me boy!