The Kentucky Memorial for the Unborn started with one Lexington woman’s search for closure in her life. After choosing an abortion to resolve a crisis pregnancy when she was a teenager, Kathy Rutledge felt an unexpected loss so overwhelming that she considered taking her own life to stop the pain.
Instead of feeling relieved that the pregnancy was over, Kathy sobbed uncontrollably for weeks, until close friends and a family member insisted that she needed to get over it and get on with her life. When those closest to her didn’t understand the depth or cause of her sadness, she learned to hide it, because she only felt worse when they encouraged her to forget the past.
As the years went by, she struggled with the biblical concept of forgiveness and questioned how she could accept forgiveness from God for the worst mistake of her life, a mistake that couldn’t be erased or fixed. Occasionally, she wondered about her lost baby – how old the child would be and what might have been. These thoughts surfaced at moments that should have been the happiest times in her life – the births of two sons. As a nurse placed her newborn in her arms, all Kathy could think about was the baby she had lost. She didn’t feel worthy of this new blessing or emotionally able to connect with the new baby
Still crying silently on the inside, she volunteered at a local crisis pregnancy center to try to feel better about herself. Maintaining a cool exterior became a habit, since she was determined not to let anyone see her in pain again. But when the pregnancy center staff planned a weekend healing retreat for post-abortive women, Kathy was gently coaxed to attend.
Toward the end of the retreat, she began to realize that the root source of her pain was unresolved grief over the loss of her baby who now was in the arms of Jesus. And though she had become spiritually indifferent to it all and seemingly numb to any display of emotion, a defensive wall around her heart broke and the dammed up tears began to flow. This time, however, instead of crying over her own pain, she seemed to be crying out to the baby she had tried so hard to forget – for forgiveness.
As she offered up a prayer to a gracious heavenly Father, Kathy was able to give her previously nameless, faceless baby a special name. Naming her baby gave her a sense that all is not lost and that she would eventually see him again in heaven. The healing of her broken heart would continue to take more time, but she now felt free to love this child as much as she loved her other children.
KY Memorial for the Unborn, P.O. Box 910312 Lexington, KY 40591