I love writing to you. It settles me. It calms me, to just sit still and let my mind and fingers move. And there’s so much to tell.

Today I want to begin to tell you about one theme encompassed in GABRIEL AND ESTHER. Long before I knew much of anything about anything, certainly before I came to embrace Jesus as my LORD and SAVIOR, I had two abortions. One was illegal, in 1966, and one was legal, in 1977.

The experiences were quite different, but the aftermaths were not. And I didn’t even know I was in the midst of an “aftermath” until twenty-three years after my second abortion. Denial is a lion-strong, self-protective human device. Its effectiveness is unerringly decisive. If I could have stayed in denial for the rest of my life, I might have chosen that. But I wasn’t the one who rattled me out of denial. That was the LORD’s work. All His.

One budding Spring Day in 1990, the LORD nudged me and said in that still small voice that you know isn’t yours, because you would never in thirteen zillion lifetimes say this to yourself: “Toni Lisa, it’s now time for you to deal with your two abortions that were, in fact, not equal to tooth extractions.”

OH NO!!!!!!!, was all I managed to silently scream. “NOT THAT. NOT THOSE.” He was not impressed. He did not back down. He did not stop nudging me until I had found a Crisis Pregnancy Center that offered group and individual counseling programs for post-abortive women and the men who were willing to admit it was their child too.

I signed up as reluctantly as I would for camping in the Everglades in mid-August (which I have done) or scaling Everest (which I would never do). I felt totally ill-prepared to look squarely in the face of this aspect of my long-ago past. But by that point in my faith-walk, I knew how to recognize G-D’s voice and to shun His counsel seemed foolish beyond reasoning.

 * * * * * *

Decades before post-abortion counseling, there were these two “tooth extractions” that were slowly eating away at the very fabric of my life. And I honestly had NO idea. I was, after all, in the rock-hard protective shell of denial.

Lean back with me now to 1966. I was a sophomore in college. I had plans. I had dreams. I was a nineteen-year-old who didn’t know much of nuttin’, but unequivocally thought I knew a lot about a lot. I was a teen-ager, for Pete’s sake. How much could I really know? (And who is Pete, anyway?) This was the most inconvenient and altogether horrendous occurrence possible for me as a nineteen-year-old college sophomore.

Here is an embarrassing fact: The one and ONLY outcome I considered was an illegal abortion. It never, not for a finger snap of time, occurred to me that I had other options. I knew from jump I would not be telling my parents. I knew they would demand that I abort, so why bother them with the details?

Twenty-five years later, when I did tell them about the two abortions because I was writing GABRIEL AND ESTHER, they assured me I had done the right thing and they would see to it that what I did, was what they would have insisted I do.

I was just a kid, and I had a plan, damn it, and a baby was just soooo not part of the plan. I would have a baby after I had at least a couple of degrees, a husband with a bright and lucrative future, a lovely home, and a nursery, painted butter-yellow with a drawer full of onesies. PERIOD.

I didn’t allow myself to identify with the baby or “fetus”, as we euphemistically call these soon-to-be-people. I didn’t bond. I didn’t love. All I wanted was for that growing thing to be 


I did, after all, have work to do, exams to study for and papers to write.

* * * * * * *

Ah, the folly of youth, particularly a youth who never placed G-D in the scenario. A youth who never considered that G-D might have a plan for that “thing.” A youth who was really only interested in her own agenda and had the value system of liberal, leftist, North-East sector of America Jewish parents.

So, there wasn’t much guilt, in fact none, for about twenty-three years. But when I grew to be a committed Believer of the Bible and was tapped by G-D to acknowledge and “deal with the abortions,” my whole life shifted on its axis.

I do not doubt that G-D knew I would ultimately write a book about the loss of these two kids, and I would have to deal with the child-less life that is now mine. After all, He knows our thoughts before we think them and our needs before we need them. I don’t believe that any of this, every miserable scrap of it, came as a big dark surprise to Him.

The following may be hard or impossible for some of you to believe, but not being an ignorant, ill-informed, overly naïve nineteen-year-old, I used two forms of both control both times I conceived. Both times. Two forms of birth control.

What I can say now, after all the post-abortive counseling, and time’s passage, is that I know G-D and my kids have forgiven me, and though it took far longer, I ultimately forgave myself. That’s why I’m able to write and speak publicly about this subject and not fall off a wall into shattered pieces of dirty crystal.

I am healed.

But I am not able to easily live with the knowledge that I made choices that lead to a life of such deep loneliness. “Regret” cannot possibly describe how I long for the children I chose not to have, or children I might have had later, but never did.

My life circumstances and the many choices I made during seventy-three years of living, have brought me to exactly where I am. There is no one to blame. I made the choices. I got a divorce. I never re-married. I didn’t consider adoption because I wasn’t mentally stable or financially capable of raising children until I was just far too old for it to be feasible.

Paul (Biblical, historical Paul) had a life-long “thorn in his side” that he wrote about but was never released from. Not to seem melodramatic or attempt to out-suffer Paul, but I feel as though I have an entire row of steak knives in my side. Forget the thorn; that would have seemingly been a summer breeze.

So, yes, I am healed enough to go public. But I suffer daily from my decisions because my life is desolate in a way that only intimate relationships within the context of family could provide. I say this because this is how a child-less life has affected me. I’m not implying that everyone who is child-less suffers. For some it’s a voluntary choice not to parent and there’s nothing aberrant about that.

But I believe I was born to parent; I would have been good at it. Kids really are drawn to me and I to them. I have a Pied-Piper sort of personality that draws kids like magnets to steel.

So sure, in order to be around children, I volunteered to work with them in various venues. When I was fourteen, I worked with Downs Syndrome kids at a local residential facility near where I grew up. I’ve volunteered in a Children’s Hospital. I worked as a Speech Pathologist in two Children’s Hospitals in Philadelphia. I’ve also been deeply close to the children of a few families since the 1980’s.

But for sure, it’s not the same. Not even close.

There are volumes more inside of me to share with you, and so I shall. But for today, I am spent. I need to take a walk and read something mindless. More later.