Big brother

He would be 27 years old.


I did the math.


He might have been married. Maybe working at his dream job, or a job he hated so he could pay the bills. Maybe living in a cozy little apartment outside of Chicago, or halfway across the world, sharing the Gospel with natives in New Guinea.


He would have been nine years old when I was born, a happy little fourth grader holding his baby sister for the very first time.


Maybe he would have had blonde hair like mine, or had Mom’s laugh. Maybe he liked music,  or maybe he would’ve been into sports.


I will know, one day, when I see his face in heaven for the first time.


But what do you say when you find out your mom gave a doctor permission to kill your older brother?


It goes against everything I trusted in.


At first I felt like my soul was suffocating. The shock was electric, jolting my heartbeat. I loved Doug so much, what if it had been him? What if it had been me? What made me deserve to live more than him?

What gave me the right to take my life for granted, when even his right to breathe was stripped from him?

Months of silence passed. I wasn’t supposed to know, it was an accident I found out, Mom needed to process, I couldn’t tell anyone. The secret weighed on me, hunching my shoulders.


My head reeling, my heart breaking for a stranger I loved but never knew.


The grief for what might-have-been. Anger for the injustice. Compassion for the girl who was forced to make a choice, alone and afraid.


Then came the next question:


If I had been in her shoes, would I have chosen differently?

A girl who didn’t know the fullness of God’s love and grace. A girl who existed in a world of criticism and judgement. A girl who was afraid, vulnerable. A girl who didn’t know the God of the universe was on her side.


My answer?


I probably would have done the same thing.

There is no room for judgement in God’s encompassing grace.


So that Christmas Eve, I wrote the letter that would send forgiveness and unconditional love to my mother, the woman who gave me my life. The letter that would tell her that God’s grace has no exceptions, to forgive what she didn’t know I knew. To give her a gift she didn’t know she needed from me.


Christmas morning, I bit my lip as I watched her unwrap the paper and pull the envelope out of the box. What would she do? Would she be angry? Surprised? In my sixteen years, I had no experience to help me predict her reaction.


But as I watched the tears roll down her face, I understood that God is a god of second chances.


Of rebirth after death and new beginnings when all seems lost.


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come.” -2 Corinthians 5:17



[You can check out my mom’s battle with post-abortive shame here, and the follow-up about her healing here.]


One thought on “Big brother

  1. Wow, Hannah, this is amazing. What a moving tribute to your brother and your mom. God is so good – and where you could have brought more anger and strife, you chose to bring TRUE peace. Your mom thinks you rock, and so do I!

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