Dear 16-year-old me. It’s 28 years, almost to the day, from where you are sitting right now. I see you there. I see you in your white paper gown that you’ve struggled with all afternoon, trying to prevent it from opening and exposing your bare self. I see you sitting there, even in the gown, still bare. A part of me feels like you can hear me. Or, at least, you sense me. I can see it in your eyes. You’re looking around the room, searching for something, but you can’t find it. It’s me. You’re searching for your voice. I know you want to get up and run. I know you are afraid. I know you feel alone. I know you know what to do but you’re too afraid to do it.
I know deep down you don’t want to do this. I understand.
You are going to wake up soon and you will be in a tremendous amount of pain. You will physically hurt. You will hurt a lot. Oh, how I wish you could hear my voice right now. Because the physical pain pales in comparison to the heart and emotional pain you will carry with you.
I see you waking up. I see you crying. I see you holding your tummy. Yes. Yes, you did it. No. No, it isn’t there anymore. It’s gone.
I want so badly to hold you. I know no one is holding you. I know no one is going to hold you. I’m sorry you’re alone. I’m sorry you feel alone. But you’re not. I’m there. God’s there. You don’t know it…but we are.
You need to know that you’re going to have a very tough journey. You’re going to be very mad at yourself. The amount of shame will feel heavier than anything you’ve ever felt before. You will hurt in ways that you will never understand.
You will think about this day forever. You will find yourself rubbing your tummy, crying, wondering…
You will have triggers. You will have reminders. It will never go away.
Can you hear me? Why can’t you hear me? I want so badly for you to hear me.
You can’t see it now, you don’t want to…I know, but your life is going to get better. Though the memory of that day will never, ever, go away. You’re going to relive the day you spent in that white gown. You’re going to relive it often. It will always be a part of who you are.
But one day you will learn about grace and forgiveness. One day you will learn about true love. Hold onto that. Tuck that away in your heart, because there will be days when the hope of that moment will be all you have.
Tam, you need to know that I forgive you. And I will forgive you when you’re back in that gown next year, too. I understand why you’re doing this. You really believe you have no other option. Why can’t you hear me…
I will be here waiting for you, and you will soon see that forgiveness and redemption will hold your heart and you won’t be alone any longer. You will find that, one day, the choice that you are making now will somehow help another young girl not make the same decision. And though that doesn’t make what you’re about to do right, it will at least give those little ones a beautiful legacy.
But still, I wish you could hear me…
This article originally appeared here.