You’ve been on my mind, and maybe not for the reasons you think. I have no doubt you have heard plenty of condemnation from so many people around you. People you know, people you don’t know. People who know you, people who think they know you, people who don’t know you at all.
I have never met you. I have only seen your name, age, and a brief description about your life, which really is none of my business. They said you were scared. I’m sure you were. I’m sure you must be now, and my heart goes out to you. I wish I could come and find you, take your hands in mine, look you in the eye, and tell you “There is hope for you.”
I don’t know your life, so I am just imagining. It seems you grew up in a rougher part of town. They said you were scared to deliver the baby and you wanted to hide your pregnancy from those around you. You were not expecting or planning for a child, and you clearly did not feel ready or capable to raise her. You didn’t feel that the people around you would support you enough to help you raise her. You must have felt so alone. So terribly alone in a time when you needed someone to come alongside you and say, “I won’t let you go through this alone. Let’s figure out a solution together. I will stay with you and help you.” I am so sorry that you didn’t have that in your life.
You brought this baby to term and somehow got to a hospital to deliver her. I truly give you credit for that. I am not a Labor and Delivery or Postpartum nurse, but I wonder what might have changed if a sensitive, compassionate nurse read some note of despair in your eyes during your brief hospital stay, and took the time to sit down with you and draw out from you how you truly felt about having this baby. Could someone have changed something for you in that moment? Told you you could leave the baby at that very hospital where she was born, without repercussion? I have to be honest and tell you that I will never fully understand why you left her in that crevice. I don’t know what was going through your heart and mind. Shame? Relief? Disappointment – in the most profound sense – in life, in the people around you, in the baby’s father, in yourself? I imagine you felt so afraid. What if someone had been with you in those moments to help sort through all the conflicting voices and emotions, to tell you “I won’t let you go through this alone. You don’t have to do this. Let’s figure out a solution together.” I am so sorry you didn’t have anyone who could do that for you in that private moment between you and your baby at the Riverbed. I am so sorry.
Have you been told, through many voices and circumstances, that your own life was so invaluable, so easily discarded, so disregarded at the end of the day, that this was the lens through which you saw your baby? I can only wonder how this all might have played out differently if someone in your life had told you, “You are worth it. Your life, as hard as it might be, is worth something. YOU are worth something.” I wonder if you would have had a different kind of ability to feel that for yourself and your baby in that private moment at the Compton Riverbed. If it would have been enough to help you gather the strength and courage to pick her up from that crevice and move forward to figure out a different solution.
You’ve now been arrested and are facing serious legal charges. Do you still feel so tremendously alone? Shame heaped upon shame? Oh…dear Porche. I’m sorry I know your name under these circumstances. You surely wanted to be known for so many other reasons than this. Porche Laronda Washington. I am sorry for all that drove you to this place. You have deeply painful consequences to face for the decision you made at that Riverbed, but I want you to know that you are still worth something. God Himself extends such compassion and grace to you through Jesus… and sometimes it can be so hard to receive this kind of unconditional love when perhaps all you have known is anything but that. But that does not make it any less real, or any less available. There is grace for your life. Yes, even yours. Even now. Please know this. You are not alone and there is grace. Even now.