This month I attended graduation for two of my children. My youngest, Coraline, was my last child to “clap out” of elementary school and my oldest son, Jaemison, graduated high school with a welding degree and diploma. You can imagine how proud I was as a father; it was a day I will remember and cherish forever.
I beamed with joy all day thinking about the future and what my kids will accomplish. My daughter is going into middle school as a straight-A student who is already preforming in high school stage productions while still in elementary school. My 18-year-old son is already a licensed welder and well on his way to a great career. This is enough to make any parent proud.
But the day was also bittersweet because I should have been attending a third graduation, this one at the junior high school. My son Benjamin would have been getting ready to enter high school and really start planning for his life. He probably would be a lot like his three brothers who are taking advantage of a great high school trade program to start their futures.
Benjamin left this earth on Feb. 23, 2011 when his mother suffered a devastating miscarriage. I can still remember the fear and pain we felt the day we lost Benjamin. It was the worst day of my life. While I should have been dreaming of one day seeing him graduate, I was planning his funeral.
We lost Benjamin naturally and the pain was almost unbearable. But on the day he died there were parents all over the world paying for someone to end the life of their pre-born children. In our nation, we destroy thousands of future graduates every day in modern-day death camps disguised as medical clinics.
When I think of all I have missed with Benjamin, I can’t help but weep for all parents who have lost their children, including those who chose abortion because they believed it was a solution to a problem or would somehow make their lives easier. So many of these parents have come to realize the grave mistake they made, and have sought healing for their loss. As someone who has struggled to be healed from the natural death of my child, I cannot fathom the pain they feel when they realize the choice they made robbed their children of ever having a choice.
All around the world there are schools whose graduation classes are incomplete. There are doctors, lawyers, plumbers, teachers, nurses and so many more missing because our world continues to allow the barbaric murder of pre-born children. There are parents who sit at home at night wondering what their child could have accomplished and contributed to this planet.
But some schools recognize this devastating loss and set out empty chairs to symbolize those lost lives. These schools understand and want to honor these missing graduates and memorialize them as a way of honoring them.
The summer after I lost my son Benjamin to miscarriage I was on tour, setting up and manning a pro-life booth at Christian music festivals across the country. I was at a festival in the Midwest when a woman approached me in tears as she looked at our fetal models. She told me how hard it was sometimes, walking around the kid’s area of the festival, because she aborted several children and didn’t believe she could ever truly be healed.
After just listening to her vent and cry, I shared with her my story and how I understood her loss and pain. I explained that I have a child in heaven who was playing with her children as they waited to see us one day. I connected her with our sister ministry Rachel’s Vineyard, which helps moms, dads, siblings and everyone involved in an abortion loss find healing. We prayed as she wept and emptied out her pain. She left our booth with a smile, and I hoped she was on her way to healing.
Look for empty chairs at graduation this year and think about all we, as individuals and as a nation, have lost. We all need healing.
LifeNews Note: Bryan Kemper is the youth outreach director and coordinator of street activism for Priests for Life. He is the author of Social Justice Begins in the Womb and Pro-life is the New Punk Rock.