BY STU METZLER
My name is Stu Metzler and I've been doing some PR for Life Matters Journal. This weekend, I was inspired to share my story. This story starts before I was born. Though I am sure there were others in my family who supported this ethic before it had a name, I'll just share my story . . .
My Dad grew up in the Mennonite church and lived on a farm in southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. When the draft came along during the Vietnam War, he had registered as a conscientious objector. He has shared how some of those he served with at a VA hospital did not seem to take their conscience very seriously and were more about partying, since it was their first time away from home. Dad, being one of the older guys, was frustrated with some of their attitudes. When he returned home, he learned that some of his close friends from high school had died serving in Vietnam.
While I was growing up, my Dad told me that if he could do it over, he'd go to Vietnam. This is something that has really made me think. I know friends who lost their dads in wartime. If he had gone, I may not exist. Who knows how war may have affected him, or if he'd even have made it out alive? What about the other people who died there in Vietnam? Would my dad have been the one to take their lives? Having wrestled with questions like this has led to my strong convictions about the evils of war.
Dad married my mother in 1971. They knew having children would be a risk, as she lived with a heart condition from a high fever she had when she was younger. They decided to try anyway. She became pregnant. As the months went by, things got more difficult for her, but she refused to take any medication that would potentially harm the baby. Six months into the pregnancy, the doctors weren't sure if she or her baby would make it. But they both did survive: in May of 1974 she delivered a healthy (if a bit jaundiced) baby boy. Me. This story of my own entrance into the world has obviously made me feel very strongly against abortion, even when risk is involved.
My mother decided to have open heart surgery to fix her mitral valve when I was six months old. During her surgery, a piece of tissue went to her brain and formed a blood clot. She went into a coma and never regained consciousness. My Dad was by her side every day for three weeks. She would squeeze his hand in response to questions. The first night he wasn't there, she passed away. I was reminded of this part of the story when listening to a RadioLab segment I just posted on our Facebook page. Even when someone is lying immobile in a coma, life is still there and it is still precious.
(This story does have a happy ending. My dad remarried and my new mom adopted me. It was an amazing blessing to grow up with three sets of grandparents and a great-grandma I would have never known if these events hadn't transpired.)
Dad has always said that I have a soft heart. But I know that my convictions about the value of human life run much deeper than just an emotion. Life Matters. No matter who, no matter when, and no matter why.
Thanks for reading. What's your story?