The evening was comfortably warm. The heat of the day had subsided and a breeze blew through our back yard. We sat around the fire with friends. Some of the kids roasted marshmallows while others played frisbee. Since my three-year old needed a bathroom, I took her inside. She chatted about the fun she was having with “fwiends” but when we opened the door to go back outside, she suddenly stopped. “Mom!” she said, her voice full of awe. “It’s almost night time!” I followed her gaze. The trees had turned to silhouettes, the sky a purplish blue. “Look at the staws!” she pointed. “Imagine if we stay up till it’s dawk?” “Imagine!” I replied. Her eyes sparkled.

Suddenly tears stung behind my eyes. Precisely one week prior, our plane had landed at Pearson International. After two weeks of working with Irish pro-lifers, my husband Nick, our colleagues Jonathon and Charmaine, their daughter Charlotte, and I had returned to Canada. And the exit polls, our phones showed, didn’t look good. The ride home was quiet.

Saturday morning, I awoke very early. While the light crept through the blinds, it felt as though I slowly gained consciousness. And then it hit me. The results of the referendum! My mind raced, my heart sank. Could the exit polls have been completely wrong? I tried to fall asleep again to avoid finding out for a little longer. Then a little voice sounded from the room next to ours. “Papa? Papa?”

Moments later her dad returned with our one-year old who had been asleep when we came home the previous night. Her face was beaming. “Mama? Mama!” I’m not sure whose smile was bigger. She hugged and kissed and kissed and hugged, then snuggled up to her dad. “Papa. Mama.”

After breakfast the kids went outside to play, only to return with fists full of dandelions. “We picked you flowers!” Arranging them into a small vase, I began thinking of Irish children. We’d seen so many of them, far more than on Canadian streets. Beautiful girls with red ponytails, handsome boys with black hair.

The exit polls, of course, were not way off. My heart broke for a people that voted to remove the right to life for the pre-born. How many little ones will never bring their mom or dad a bouquet of dandelions now?

On Sunday one of our church elders prayed for Ireland and for those who had voted ‘Yes’, many of whom wouldn’t be alive if the law hadn’t protected them. When we sang Psalm 6 I couldn’t help but think of the children whose lives are now in danger of destruction. Pity, Lord, my sad condition; I am weary and distressed; Many adversaries vex me; Weeping, I can find no rest.

The same was true for our Irish friends who, after pouring everything into their pro-life efforts, were devastated by the landslide of pro-abortion votes. Especially bitter were the celebrations in Dublin that could be seen online. Meanwhile, faithful men and women mourn that abortion will come to their beautiful isle.

I haven’t been able to look at my children the same way as before. When they snuggle up to me, I think of the moms who will never experience such joy, the dads whose little ones won’t call for them, the brothers and sisters without siblings to play with. And for what?

I think of the children whose tiny bodies will be suctioned or scraped out of the womb, whose soft limbs will be torn off, whose little hearts will receive a fatal injection. And why?

I wonder what else we could have done. Should I have delivered more flyers? Had more and shorter conversations instead of less and longer ones? Asked more people to donate so together we could’ve made a bigger difference? Prayed more, fasted perhaps? What will it take before our nations wake up to the slaughter of our very own children? How long before our churches collectively come to the defense of “the least of these”?

A few days ago, my oldest suddenly wanted to know about the outcome of the referendum. “Did most people vote ‘No’, mom?” I had hoped that he wouldn’t ask. When I told the truth, it was quiet around the dinner table. “That’s sad,” one said softly. “But our team won’t stop, right?”

He couldn’t be more right.

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