I remember very distinctly walking through a department store one day when I was fourteen. Suddenly I was very aware of what the radio was playing. To most people it was any old song – background music as they shopped. For me though, it was the song from my friend’s funeral, the song that will be always attached to those memories. I was frozen. No one wants a sudden rush of painful emotions, especially in a public place, but it happens to most (if not all) of us at some time.
When I was fourteen, my friend died. That is what happened. That will always be what happened. And things will always remind me. I used to cry every time the news reported the death of a student in any school anywhere, remembering the surreal feeling of walking down the hallways knowing someone was missing forever. I took years to forgive (and never went back to) a coach who nonchalantly told me that people who choose suicide must be very selfish, and perhaps we’re better off without them.
And there were (and are) the commercials. The anti-suicide-there-is-help-call-this-hotline commercials. And I knew (and know) they are good and they help people, but I cried. I cried and I wanted nothing to do with them. I cried and I wished things were different.
We all have our triggers. There are times I’ve been absolutely livid at people for bringing up a topic I find painful, especially when I thought they were trying to sound as if they knew more than I felt they did.
And now I work for an organization that shows aborted baby pictures publicly on a regular basis. And people are angry with us, with me, for bringing up a painful topic. I answer your phone calls. I read your emails. I hear from those who have lost children to miscarriage, to abortion, or for whom the pictures are a reminder of some other painful event. I have not lived what you have lived, but I know triggers and I know that anger—how angry I’ve been at people in the past, and how angry you may be at us now.
Here’s the thing, though. I also know that those pictures save lives. There are children alive today because their parents saw those pictures and chose life. I know that approximately 100, 000 children are killed in Canada every year, and my only choices are action or complicity.
Painful pictures—painful truths—save lives. We see this in campaigns against drinking and driving, against drug use, or for suicide hotlines. Loved ones lost to drunk drivers, to drug addiction, to suicide, are gone, but there are others who can still be helped.
Maybe this is cold comfort. I can’t make the pictures less painful. I can’t say I know exactly what they remind you of. But there are over three million Canadian children who are gone. Over three million have been killed since 1970. But there are others who can still be helped. Will you help them?