My wife and I celebrated 20 years of marriage last year. Getting married was the smartest decision my mother-in-law ever made for me. I was a 23-year-old waiter/college tinkerer with dreams of taking Columbia House CDs for all it was worth, one cent at a time. I did not have a driver’s license (story to come in a future blog). If you live on the East Coast this sounds normal; in Texas, a lack of a driver’s license means you better have a strong co-pilot game, e.g., jokes, money for beer, or the address to a hopping party or club. My longest relationship up to this point had been three months and ended abruptly when I stopped calling her forever. My parents had divorced when I was five or eight – as a man, I am required to not have exact memories (Mancode #137). Needless to say, a relationship-building role model was not in my immediate family.
Back to my love story. Nature had provided me with a Libran sense of balance that made me fiercely loyal to friends and served me well as I had been dating my dream woman for a year and a half. Stunningly beautiful, smart, funny, animal lover, able to hold her own around my guy friends, and from day one she reciprocated the effort I put forward. I underestimated her love of books, but the other qualities made up for this passion. If there is such thing as love at first sight, this was it. I was hooked.
At this point, you are stuck on “smartest decision my mother-in-law ever made for me” and wondering why the hell this college-educated bombshell fell for me. We were smitten with each other and outside of a brief three-day period where she says I tried to break up with her for unknown reasons (this point will be contested until the end of time) only to be saved by a letter she wrote to me. She fought for me, and no one had ever done that.
A trip to the zoo and $15 worth of Long John Silver’s later she delivered news that I was not ready for: “Marc, I’m pregnant.” For the first time in my life, I was speechless. Nothing. “SAY SOMETHING!!” she yelled. Nothing. By this time in my life I was in the beginning stages of becoming a golf professional and building my life up to where I felt I deserved this woman. She never told me what to do professionally or otherwise, but I was inspired to build a better life with her in it. “Marc, I’m pregnant” changed everything. Neither sets of my parents went to church. My only introduction to religion was my small-town Baptist minister putting out a list of songs that should not be listened to ala Footloose, which only made for a “had to have” list of songs for my next trip to the mall.
I don’t know whose idea it was to have an abortion, but we made an appointment, and by my view, this would hit the reset button on our life together. She had just started her career (no really, she landed the perfect job just days before that stick turned blue), and I was just beginning to build mine. This wasn’t the right time for us, so, we did what we thought that people just do, I guess.
My girlfriend's sister bought her a cute tee-shirt to comfort her, and I didn’t think twice about going with her to the clinic. I needed to be there. I vividly remember what happened next: we walked in and we both kind of froze. My soon-to-be-better-half turned to me and said: “I can’t do this.” The next words to come out of my mouth were the turning point in my life, and the true beginning of our life together: “Okay, then we’re not doing this.” We packed up our things and got the hell out of there.
We headed to the hotel room I had booked for her recovery, but now it took on all new meaning. Her mother drove in town immediately after hearing the news her daughter was pregnant. Her mom is a force of nature and to this day my biggest advocate. She looked me square in the eye and said: “Well, you’re going to get married.” I quickly agreed and thus was part of a marriage proposal Britney Spears would mock for its lack of romance.
To this day when my wife and I see someone pop the question by cutting it in a corn field or taking a knee on the big screen at a sporting event, we laugh, and I say “nothing compared to my proposal.” And we laugh until our sides hurt. She can laugh because what I did from that point forward in that clinic was prove daily why she chose me. I never once looked back and asked: “what if.” In fact, I believe our now 20-year-old son is the reason we are together today. He is now a senior in college and was followed by a brother and a sister. I shared this story last year with him for the first time after he began to ask me about my feelings on abortion. I wanted him to know his parents are human, but more importantly, what role he played in our family’s history. The story had not been shared outside of my wife and me since that day more than 20 years ago. I was flooded with emotion, and judging by the look on my son's face, he understood what a life-changing moment this was for everyone involved.
The recent March for Life brought this history full force back into my mind. I get a chill in my bones when I think of how close we came to losing a life that has touched and inspired other lives in countless ways through the years. We chose life, never looked back, and because of this, the world is a better place.
I don’t preach or tell people what to do. I don’t take kindly to people nosing into others’ business. But I’d like to speak up for those who don’t have voices yet. I say we “chose life,” but it really isn’t a choice at all when you think about it. The gift of life isn’t something we have a right to snuff out. Thank God we realized this before doing the unthinkable. I hope others realize this too.
And with that, I have to go make a phone call. To the young man whose chance at life changed mine forever.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.