I looked solemnly out at the large window in the room, in which I will live for the next 8 months of my life, it was the only solution. After finding out the test results, I had gone to my father who arranged it all, secretly, shamefully. Having a father who was Pastor of a small church did not allow for such error, only, except, I am human. Is my God so cruel that I could not resist temptation of the boy I loved? You see, my mother passed away when I was small, leaving my father to raise me and the housekeeper, Mary Beth, so I spent a lot of time alone. My father was always busy with his work - the small Church kept him busy and the congregation always demanding. And then the sermons he had to write, and practice, I would hear him through my bedroom wall, while the sea sang out against the shore, its waves like soapy foam, splashing against the rocks under the moonlight. I began to see Rodgriquez secretly, I was under age then, just having had my 17th birthday. He kissed me at the Canada Day picnic, wet and sloppy, then slow and careful. I felt my body tingle - I had a fluttery feeling inside my tummy. After that we met a few more times, and finally, arduantly, no experience, we did it. ALL the way, and no protection. How dumb was that? I learned later about contraceptives, but that isn't important right now.
"God gave us his only son, Jesus, who died on the cross, to forgive us our sins, repent, and give yourself to our Lord Christ." He would say, at the end of each Service, and it was always the same. The patrons would go up, and allow themselves to be blessed and saved. My father had the Holy Power, but really he was a good actor. I laughed out loud, as I sat on the old bed now.
I felt sad and heavy hearted. He was still my father. I was scared, my whole life ahead of me, now, as I sit in this dreary room with only a window to look out of. I hugged myself then, a tear fell down my face, my eyes darkened from lack of sleep.
He was ashamed of me, he didnt want anyone to find out, a daughter who was barely 18 with child. The adoption had been set, papers had been signed, a hefty fee paid for my baby. My father said it would pay for my college education later.
"Well, isnt that convenient, I have to have a baby and sell it to go to college." I told him through teary eyes and a heavy heart. My baby.
"I know this may seem harsh, but a child? You are so young now, you will regret keeping it. It isn't the money, we have enough, it's your whole life, please try to understand." He'd spoken the words, but it was his decision, his house, his life he was worried about. I wasn't stupid.
So, he'd arranged for me to stay in Halifax, at the nun's convent there, on a busy street. I would be cared for, well hidden, as the convent was surrounded by beautiful gardens and the hustle of the small city by the sea. It was summer of '54. I brought my books, had a small radio and a small little tv set my father gave me, it only had 3 stations. And of course, my Bible. I sighed as I picked it up now, with all the notes and little cards I'd collected over the years. Thank you notes, wedding invitation notes, (My father had married a fair amount of couples in his day) and other little cards of sorts. A tear fell down my face.
Feb. - 7 months later
Early winter began to settle in - the night was dark and bitter cold. I woke up with heartburn, my stomach was upset for a few days now, I couldn't sleep. I got up, made some herbal tea using the small hot plate a kind nun had given me, she was young, a newbie, she'd told me. Loretta the newbie nun. I did like her. And now, the hot plate made me a cup of chamomile tea which I was grateful for. I opened the curtains and stared out the window. The street below me, some cars passed, it was 3:45 am. I 'rubbed my swollen belly, wishing the baby would come so I could go home to my own room. I had secrets. My boyfriend Rodriquez who was Mexican was well endowed in the underground. I had been writing him, and he back to me using an alias. It was the only way to not raise suspicion if he pretended to write as a female friend. I'd lied to the nuns and said I was applying for college in Mexico. I was making plans, and then the parcel finally came. The one I had been waiting for. I tucked its contents under my mattress carefully, and took it out when the beds were changed. I had gotten to know the routine well enough by now in this prison. Every night I prayed for forgiveness.
I had it in my blood, you see, the religious life. Once I had been born into the world of the Church, I could not exactly say, "Go now, I am done.", Faith did not work that way. Summers of Bible study, Bible camp, weekend worships, it was all there right in my face, crept its way deep into my veins. I however, differed from my father. I had accepted I was less than perfect, and God would take me along, He would provide an Angel to look after me, however way I chose to go in my journey's. That's just the way it was. For all the tear stained pillow cases, I was not going to sell my gift. Rodriguez was waiting for me, together we would somehow make things work.
As far as pregnancies go, mine was not great. I was sick most of the time, the greasy broth the nuns brought me only made me want to puke more. The lonliness ate at my soul, it was more than I could bear. I managed some soggy biscuits and gravy, orange's, and pre natal vitamins, I was terribly thin. My back hurt, and the dreams came. I would wake up, and once again that window became my solstice, in the silenced night, I would watch the street below, praying for the freedom I desperately craved. Rodriquez had written me too, he said he would meet me later, after he finished high school. He wanted to help me raise our child. And so, now, even years later, I still look out of a window when I wake in the night, and remember those days at the convent.
I watched two hookers standing on the corner, huddled against the cold night air in fake fur coats, they climbed into a taxi and took off. I envied them. They were free, nobody owned them, I thought blissfully. Why did God allow my father to make me come here, and sell my baby?? If he was such a loving God, then he would let me keep my child. I stared down at the empty street, the glow of the streetlamps breathing the lonliness I now felt. Two policeman walked underneath, heads bent down in conversation. I was nothing, a shadow kept away in a secret place.
"I wonder how you would feel in prison, same as me." I told the window, I was tired, beyond exhausted. The nuns were kind enough, the food wasn't great but it wasn't awful either, and I got to go out when it wasn't busy at the convent. The nuns held services, bazaars, things like that, or hosted parties for other convents and guests sometimes. I didn't mind it here - except I was a secret, a lie, I had sinned in the eyes of God and my father. It sucked. Dawn had begun to creep up now, I continued staring out at the silent city below me. I couldn't see the ocean, I wasn't near enough but the dew hung in the early morning air. I could smell the scent of the salted air. I'd look up at the cross above my bed, of Jesus, and his bleeding hands and feet. There were other photo's of Mary, Joseph, in white little frames on the dresser too. A Rosary hung on the bedpost, but I didn't do the Rosary. We were not that kind of Church. We were a separate Miniserie, donation supported, following the New Ways of our beliefs.
"I want this baby, I want to keep you." I told rubbed my belly and spoke to the life inside me. It was there. Hard to ignore it. I took out my Bible and I prayed. When the sun came up to a cold day, my water broke.
"Ok, you had a girl and she is fine, you need to rest now." Loretta wiped my forehead with cloths.
"I want to see my baby, please help me get out of here, I want to keep her." I pleaded, I grabbed her small hands hard.
"No child, you can't see her, the baby is going to her foster parents, it is all arranged I am told. If I help you I will never be allowed to be a Nun. Try to rest, it will all be over and you will be home soon." Loretta left her then.
Later that night, I stared out the window again. I was determined to keep MY baby. I had the money my father gave me, he'd placed it in my bank account with full trust. I waited until the nuns went to bed, which was pretty early at the convent since they woke at 4 am to start morning prayers. I packed my small suitcase. It had begun to snow. 2:00 am. I crept down to the nursery and saw her. My beautiful little baby girl. "Hush, not a sound, we need to get out of here before they take you away." I told her, swathing her in a baby blanket and making a hood with it. Soft and warm. I cuddled her, grabbing some bottles from the fridge. She was of course, not being breast fed due to the adoption, and the midwife had suggested bottles. She hadn't a name yet, so I chose Ruth, one of the wives of Job, who was so courageous bearing so many sons who later became an epic chapter in Bible history. Together, huddled in a large overcoat, and her blankets, we snuck out out quietly. My throat and chest tight with fear, not wanting to get caught, if the baby cried, surely the nuns would wake. The moment was now, two.....three....minutes to the side doorway, and I hauled it open against the winds that were not welcoming.
I had some connections too. If my father could arrange a baby sale, I could arrange a secret passage to America or Mexico, and keep my baby. God will forgive me. I would not forget that window, the one I stared out in the small hours of the night, alone, waiting, and secretly arranging for my fake passports and I.D. through Rodriquez's buddies in Mexico. I had turned 18 anyway now, something my father had missed. Now, here we were, just me and my daughter Ruth, going underground on a journey towards our choosing. I became an adult in the summer of '54. But, was I????