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March 2022

There are about 900 proverbs in the book of Proverbs. But not all proverbs are there.  Like this one: “Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.” It’s the counter that fairytale song, “When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.” It speaks a hard truth. Some dreams-come-true can turn into living nightmares.

It recently played out in horrific fashion on one of the world’s biggest stages: the Winter Olympics. Some countries have a knack for greatness in certain sports, and for the Russian Olympic Committee, it is women’s figure skating. Not only was its team powerful, the ROC thought it had a ringer—a 15 year-old ringer. Lanky, wispy teenager Kamila Valieva is a contortionist on ice, able to twist and turn her body in seemingly impossible ways, all the while looking beautiful doing it.  She can gracefully jump and spin four times in the air and land with perfect balance on the edge of a blade only 3/16 of an inch wide. She doesn’t fall. Calling Kamila a figure skater is like calling Michelangelo a ceiling painter.

Like any of us, Kamila has hopes and dreams, and she dreamed of winning a gold medal. For the ROC, winning gold is an expectation, and it will go to whatever ends necessary to achieve it. Kamila’s handlers gave her a three-med cocktail, one of which was trimetazidine—a banned substance used to increase endurance. Kamila tested positive, but following an appeal she was allowed to compete in the individual event. The thought was that disqualifying the minor would do her “irreparable harm.” Her dream of competing for gold remained alive.

As the event neared, the pressure on Kamila built as many publicly disagreed with the ruling. Though uncharacteristically slipping in the “short” program, she had a chance to recover in the long event. But as the world watched in disbelief, the skating ballerina fell apart. During her seven-minute skate, Kamila fell on three jumps. She slipped on spins. She looked clumsy. And waving her arm in disgust after she finished, Kamila knew it.

As bad as her skating was, what followed was much worse. As she hysterically, inconsolably cried, her handlers seemed cold. Her coach asked why she didn’t try harder. It even impacted those skaters who, unlike Kamila, won medals. The gold medalist, Kamila’s teammate, was left standing alone with a stuffed bear, hoping that someone would recognize her. But for Kamila, the pain was the worst, her dream shattered. It was all so hard to watch. The impact on her confidence and desire to return to the ice remains to be seen. Kamila wants to be a psychologist one day. It felt like she needed one, there and then.

Getting what we want, even if thought good, can have unexpectedly horrible consequences. It’s true with abortion, though some will deny it. Recently, 35-year old actress Milana Vyantrub—Lily Adams from those AT&T commercials—told her story. Living with her boyfriend after college, she missed her birth control. On becoming pregnant, she promptly decided to abort the baby she “did not want and could not care for.” Over the last decade Milana has “hardly thought” about her “beautifully boring” abortion.

Milana may think that “beautifully” and “boring” belong in the same sentence as killing her own child. But that’s for right now. As long as Milana lives, there will be tomorrow, and tomorrow will have its own thoughts. They pop up out of the blue and sometimes stay. As we see more of our lives in our rear window, we begin to question the roads we took. “What if?” becomes a question we cannot answer with any satisfaction because we cannot change what happened. Regrets set in, regrets that can be relentless and all-consuming.

Chicago suburbanite Nancy Kreuzer knows only too well. During an ultrasound in her second pregnancy, her nurse abruptly left and came back with a doctor. Her 22-week baby had water on the brain. He recommended terminating the “lethal pregnancy,” emptying her uterus of its “contents,” and getting on with life. She accepted his words without question. It began a 20-year struggle to regain control of her life.

Leaving the abortion facility, Nancy vomited in the parking lot. Unable to tell anyone, she tried to bury the experience and, like her doctor said, just get on with life. But she couldn’t. There were unexpected reminders: the fluttering of life inside her, or a baby’s cry. The smell of lilacs—in bloom at the time of her abortion—made her nauseous. She suffered from insomnia and nightmares that left her balled up in the fetal position. She named her baby Melanie, but could tell no one. She kept an ultrasound photo. It was all she had of her baby’s life.

But one day, in answer to prayer of two friends, Christ told her that He was king of even this mess. She knew she needed to accept the truth about her decision. On her knees, Nancy made a full confession. And she felt God’s grace pour in. The healing began. One night, she woke up after dreaming that her hands were covered in blood. She dismissed it and quickly fell asleep. Today, Nancy tells her story to whomever will listen. It’s her calling. It’s her payback.

I hope Kamila recovers. And if Milana ever sees something in her rear window not as beautifully boring as once thought, I hope she finds someone like Nancy. She’ll need her.

Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics.  He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.
© Paul V. Esposito 2022.  Culture of Life.  Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted.  Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/ and on Facebook.

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