A Vision for 20/20~My Sister’s Table

Enlarging the conversation with the first full moon of the decade:

Chakra Journeys

My Sister’s Table, Thanksgiving 2019.

December 2019

My Sister’s Table is a string of words that has accompanied me, tucked in my pocket as a reminder, a personal touchstone, of the capacity I find in women to hold the larger conversation, beyond the illusion of “sides.”

It arose out of a tender, painful conversation that took place between my sister and me, well over a dozen years ago, just after the re-election of Bush. That November, instead of heading across the border from Vermont into Canada, I headed south into the belly of the beast, the very state accused of rigging the election against Gore (he, who would have prioritized stewardship of the planet upon which we all rely.)

I arrived in Tampa during the Wal-Mart Superstore explosion which seemed to run right alongside the mainstreaming of Evangelicalism. In this alternative reality, men were still head of the household, and…

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I have a dream too…

Artist: Jen Norton

I have a dream

That no woman would choose abortion

Out of fear

Or shame

Or finances.

I have a dream

That each baby born would be celebrated.

Provided for.



I have a dream

That girls would grow up to love their bodies.

Their minds.

Their strength.

Their ability.

I have a dream

That each woman would

Claim her sexuality.

Share her body, only
by invitation.

Welcome a child, knowing
that her community
Would always support
the gift of life.

I have a dream

That every father would teach his daughter self-love.

His son, self-respect.

His family self-knowing.

I have  a dream

That every mother would teach her son self-disclosure.

Her daughter, self-care.

Her family, self-restraint.

I have a dream

That we would recognize the fabric of our connection

With each life.

With every family.

With all of the earth.


love-rose-quartzWhen I was 16, not only did I have two abortions. but I also threw a baby into the trash.

I worked in the pathology department of a hospital that summer, and my job was to catalog the body parts from surgeries, and then to dispose of them once the reports came back.

On one occasion, I opened up a sterile plastic container, dumped out the contents (and  formaldehyde) into the metal strainer, and saw not an appendix, or a gall bladder, but a baby; a tiny little baby.

I had forgotten about this, not forever, but for a long time, and it wasn’t until tonight that I truly felt what it was that I faced all those years ago.

Recently, some of my anti-abortion friends on Facebook have been posting abortion videos and images, suggesting that those who support the choice of abortion should watch it; and I thought to myself, they’re right; if I believe that abortion should be legal, which I do; I should be able to face what it looks like.

So I did, I clicked on a tab that said “Abortion Pictures.”

And suddenly I remembered…

the baby in the plastic cup.

At the time, I thought she must have been only a couple months old, but now I realize that she was at least 5 months old; because although she could fit into my hand, she was perfectly formed, legs curled up and all.

Though I had easily disposed of hundreds of bodily organs, I left her waiting on the shelf for some time.

In retrospect this job at the hospital was too much for a 16 year old, but I didn’t know it then. I even said, “Go ahead, I don’t mind,” when they asked if they could do an autopsy in the room while I worked at the sink (because Pathology was housed in the Morgue at the time.)

There were jars of organs on shelves; one jar of someone I knew who had died in a recent plane crash. There was a man in the freezer on a stretcher with a single shoe. A sneaker. Was he hit by a car while crossing the street? I remember his big belly. He wasn’t wearing a shirt.

I did my job every week, and I was paid well, and for the most part I thought myself lucky, even if I did have to dump body parts right after lunch while nauseous with early pregnancy.

It was the prostates that bothered me the most. They looked like ground up hamburger, and I dumped them as fast as I could, without looking, while I gagged.

I’ll never forget the hard yellow tumor that I saw the Pathologist slice out of a large breast. The woman to whom it belonged must have been old and must have been too afraid to see a doctor until it had grown almost as large as the breast around it. I had a hard time rinsing that breast and throwing it away.

But in my imagination, the baby is still there, on the shelf, because I cannot toss her into the trash. She is not sitting in a strainer while I look at her, wondering what to do.

Instead I’ve taken her home, in a tiny box, and placed her deep in the earth, with a beautiful rose quartz stone.

I’ve said a prayer for her soul and for her parents who must be grieving.

I’ve wondered why miscarried babies are thrown into the trash and not buried.

And now I wonder what becomes of the aborted.

Where were you?

There is a field out beyond right doing and wrong doing. I’ll meet you there. 

woman, cryingVan Gogh (visipix.com)

If a 7 week or a 11 week fetus is a child, where were you?

Why didn’t  you come?

When were you planning on bringing the casserole?

What were you thinking when you said, “Try again.”

How could you dismiss such a loss without ritual or ceremony or a fruit basket?

But you did. All of you. Even those who came–in whispers–to say that you lost a baby once too.

Dark secrets…

Like those of menses. Unwed pregnancies. Abortions. “The Change of life.”

It is dangerous to be a woman.

malala_yousafzai_by_hanciong-d5ikyp7It always has been. Some of us sense that more acutely. Others live it.

Why would you give up or give back what so many fought to give forward? Why would you let a bunch of white men decide?

You say abortion is killing? It is. Everyone knows that. Especially our devout friends who also make this choice.

Mothers who choose abortion aren’t heartless or ignorant. They just don’t want any more children, or a child at 15, or one with a man who is cruel or one who won’t be there.

1011032_10151702454678746_1452961399_nYou want less killing? Support women. Support children. Support families. Support education. Support birth control. Support kindness and compassion.

My sister worked at a Crisis Pregnancy Center where they ministered to women even after they aborted. The Planned Parenthood Center where I went at 16 encouraged me to look at options. They asked me if I was sure. Again and again.

Love on women. Empower them. Educate them. Show them the development of a fetus at 6 weeks. But don’t ask them to have a baby that you will later condemn them for delivering–without a man or money.

If it’s the innocent you care about, show it. Show it to the children who are here, among us.

Stop pretending that abortion has something to do with Obama, or Democrats, or liberals. It’s us. We’re the ones who want to decide, who have to decide, who must decide–because our world depends on this sovereignty. Women make the world a safer place.

I’ve had two abortions. Two miscarriages. Two children.

I’ve loved all six of my babies.

Only two will have funerals when they die.

Kelly Salasin, April 13, 2013

More on women from my blogs:

Feminism or Make Believe, Two Owls Calling blog

22nd Women’s Film Festival, This Vermont Life blog

Violence Hides in the Home, The Empty(ing) Nest Diary blog

The Healing Eggs, Two Owls Calling blog

Father Who Used FB to Teach his Daughter a Lesson: A Human Rights Issue; Two Owls Calling blog

Feminist or Whore, The Empty(ing) Nest Diary blog

“First Love & Abortion” The Empty(ing) Nest Diary blog

Sarah Palin & Me, Part II. Choice & Health Care Reform, Kelly Salasin blog

Heaven’s Daughters, Two Owls Calling blog

Feminism or Make-Believe?

I want to write about feminism but I don’t know how. I  feel sad when I hear friends blame feminism for society’s ills; when they say that the sexual revolution is responsible for the breakdown of the family.

Families were always disintegrating (albeit more privately)–even before birth control; and abortion; and casual sex.

I’m glad a woman can walk away from a man who is beating her nowadays. I’m glad that a young girl can sue her father for a lifetime of sexual abuse. I’m glad my sisters and cousins are no longer morally obliged to stay married to men who are cheating on them.

That permission came with feminism.

I love the freedom that this “change” brought. I love that it allows me to celebrate sex and family.  I love that I could play around when I was young and then marry the man I wanted and raise two boys with him; that I could choose “to stay home” and then choose to go back to work; while my friends were free to make completely different choices.

In the early 1900s, my great-grandmother had to stop teaching once she was married. Her role as a wife and potential mother trumped any other needs she may have had–forever.

Her daughter, my grandmother, was born in the twenties, just after her mother was able to show up at the ballot box without being assaulted or arrested. She found herself pregnant at the end of her third year at college. A quick wedding covered up her mistake while her husband went on to medical school and she stayed home with baby after baby–for the rest of her life.

When my mother got pregnant right out of high school, she was sent off to an unwed mother’s home until her baby was secretly given away for adoption.

IMDb – Pleasantville (1998)

I don’t know what I’m trying to say, except that I’m glad that the thinking has opened up enough for there to be more options for me than there were for those who came before me. I’m thankful to all those courageous women who broke out of the mold, pushed past the limits, and took us in new directions.

I don’t want to go back, and I’m certain, it won’t be better. It might “look” better, but it won’t feel better. Unless you’re a man. A white man. With money.

I’ve always said that if I could go back in time, I’d be a man in the 1950s. The reclining chair. The newspaper. The dinner on the table.

IMDb – Pleasantville (1998)

Men have it tougher now. They’re expected to be strong and flexible, independent and relational, decisive and collaborative. My own husband is all of that, plus he cooks and cleans and parents; while I still want him to take care of the car and the lawn and the scary spiders.

In exchange for that complexity, he has a wife that can be soft and kind and caring, as well as bold and fierce and demanding.

Freedom isn’t always pretty. It sure isn’t our Sunday best; but I’d choose “real” over “make believe” any day.

IMDb – Pleasantville (1998)

If you don’t want your young ones having sex, talk to them about it. If you don’t believe in abortion, work at a crisis pregnancy center. If you want families to stay intact, support them.

I think we all need to thank those who came before us for what feminism has provided. Stop looking back. Face forward. Create what we want–within the freedom and permission that we each deserve–no matter what our sex or skin color or income.

Don’t live in a fantasy world where loosing our voices and our choices makes for a better life.

Kelly Salasin, March 29, 2012

More on women, feminism and choices:

Bring your vagina to church

Where Were You?

Feminist or Whore?

Not Rape, But Not Right

Father Who Used FB to Teach His Daughter A Lesson: A Human Rights Issue

Sarah Palin & me, Part II

Recommendation: the movie, Pleasantville.