I’m utterly excited about the prospect of fatherhood. But several years ago I couldn’t say the same.
Long before my wife and the fast-approaching due date of our first child, I found myself receiving a call I never wanted to answer. Faced with a decision I never wanted to make. A woman I wasn’t in love with was telling me she was pregnant. There was no Maury, studio audience or manila envelope containing DNA test results. Still, that didn’t change the fact that I was the father.
It was the worst possible news I could have heard at the time.
Two, maybe three, months earlier I could have been excited, but that’s not the word I would use to describe how I felt. Upset. Disappointed. Confused. Any one of those terms seemed more fitting. How could I be expected to have a child with a woman I didn’t even want to be in the same room with?
That’s not to say she was a bad person—we were just bad for each other. Not always, but right then and there that’s all that mattered. So after an awkward conversation we came to an even more awkward decision.
I don’t think either of us actually mustered up the courage to ever utter the word out loud, but it seemed like the only way out of a short-term relationship that had somehow created a long-term burden—one that neither of us was prepared to carry. We were too weak. Well, at least I know that I was.
I didn’t want to deal with this issue of my own making. I was supposed to be smarter than this. I should have known better than this. I wasn’t supposed to be in a situation like this. Still, here I was dealing with “this” by avoiding it in the worst way possible.
Rather than seeing what would have been my first child come to term I snuffed out your life. It was too soon to know if you were a boy or a girl; if you had my smile or her eyes. I had to detach myself from all emotions and not think of you as a small part of me. There’s no way I could think about any of that and still go through with this.
I tucked your brief existence far away in the recesses of my subconscious, while what remained of your still-forming body was violently sucked out of your mother’s womb and tossed into a biohazard bag to get tossed out with the day’s trash. At least that’s what I imagine happening as I didn’t have the courage to be there for your murder or even hold your mother’s hand through the process. I was a coward who hid behind a measly $300 ATM withdrawal and never looked back.
That’s not entirely true.
I’ve thought of you periodically over the years: Who you would have been, what our relationship would have been like, and what impact you would have had on my own life. But I never gave you an opportunity to manifest any of those things, and for that I’m truly sorry.
Sorry for being selfish and only thinking about myself. Sorry for my part in taking your life. Sorry for never giving us a chance. Sorry for choosing my future over yours.
As I finally prepare to face fatherhood head-on I’ve found myself thinking about you now more than ever. I regret never getting the chance to meet you and giving you the choice of loving me or hating me like I had with my own father. I regret not giving you the opportunity of being an older brother/sister. I’m sure you would have been an amazing one and had so much love to share.
If there’s one thing that I want you to know is that I didn’t choose this forthcoming child over you. I can’t love one over the other. I’m just a man who’s made some poor decisions in his youth that wound up hurting you more than myself. I’ll have to live with the fact that I did you wrong forever. I hope that you can one day forgive me, but just know that I’ll never be able to forgive myself.