Melissa is an aspiring entrepreneur trapped in a 9:00 to 5:00 body. She is married to a wonderful man who still makes her belly laugh on the daily, and is mama to two beautiful boys who remind her that she should not take life nearly as serious as she tends to. Her passion is advocacy, especially for the most vulnerable individuals in her community, and she lives by the golden rule.
When I think back to that day now, I smile. Knowing that our young 17-year old selves made the right decision. It always felt right, but so wrong at the same time.
It was May 1994. I was 18 and I was in love – truly, madly, deeply. It was all-consuming, for both of us. We had been dating for 5 months and we were inseparable. I had known him for years as just another classmate; then with mutual friends we started to find ourselves in similar places at similar times, and before I knew it he was all I wanted.
I don’t remember his first words to me, the ones that made me think “hey, I dig this kid.” I don’t remember our first date, or even the last. I don’t remember his favorite food or color or song. I don’t remember his favorite restaurant or the first concert we saw together. I don’t remember the gifts we bought each other or the things he said to make me laugh, over and over and over. I don’t remember how we decided to part ways even. All I remember is how he made me feel.
I felt on top of the world when I was with him — bulletproof. I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world. I felt like I could do anything. I believe he felt the same. We were each other’s everything. Whatever this thing was that we had, I never wanted to lose it.
He was my first for many things. My first love. My first orgasm. My first illicit drug experience. My first Broadway musical. My first car accident. My first promise ring. My first pregnancy.
Initially, I was in complete denial. I went about my day-to-day like nothing was different. I kept telling myself everything was fine and there was no way I could be pregnant. Knowing full well that I could most definitely be pregnant as we had been throwing caution to the wind for months now. Eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that there was a yes or no answer to my question, so I bought the test.
I played hooky the next morning. Telling my mom that an upset stomach was the cause and I was surely going to feel better in a few hours. Or at least I hoped I did. I took a deep breath and opened the package. After thoroughly reading the instructions I thought “damn it, I knew I should have bought two. What if I mess this one up and have to face another embarrassing trip to the store for another?” “Not now, focus on getting an answer before freaking out,” I told myself. Something I still have to remind myself to do!
I read the instructions a few times. Ready, set, go – I took the test. I waited the suggested amount of time and tried to muster up the courage to look down for a good 10 minutes. It is amazing all the things you can accomplish when you are hiding from the truth. I think I knew. I knew the answer and was terrified to know the truth. I looked down. I wanted to be prepared, but there was no way in hell I was ever going to be prepared for this.
Two unquestionable pink lines. Not one, but two. I knew it. There was no turning back now. I sat on the bathroom floor and sobbed uncontrollably. Fuck – that was all I could think. What in the fuck were we going to do now?
I collected myself up from the fetal position, got dressed, and went to school. I was living in a pre-cell phone and social media era. The only way I could tell him was to get to school as fast as I could. I didn’t want to go though, I wanted to stay right there. In that moment, almost frozen in time. What was I going to say? Would I be able to tell him? What was his reaction going to be? So many questions were racing through my mind.
I took a deep breath. Walked into school, and there he was, asking where I had been all morning. I brushed it off as nothing, stating I wasn’t feeling well. I knew there was no way I could tell him right in that moment. The lump in my throat was so big, I thought my esophagus was going to burst! “I just have to get through today,” I thought to myself, that was it.
After school that day, we hopped into his brother’s car. Somehow I was still managing to keep it together. Next I heard him say, “dude, why do you have a baby hanging from your mirror?” I looked up to see a tiny plastic fetus hanging from his rearview mirror. His brother and girlfriend gleefully announced that they are going to have a baby!
What?! No, seriously, this cannot be happening. I started to sweat, I felt the lump in my throat returning, and I screamed for his brother to pull over. Thankfully I was able to open the door before the car stopped to avoid remodeling the interior of his brother’s car with puke. “Well,” I thought, “that is one way to change the conversation.”
I don’t remember much about that day. I don’t remember what I wore. I don’t remember where I told him. I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember any tears. I don’t remember what he said. I don’t remember the look on his face. I don’t remember a thing. All I remember is how he made me feel.
I felt scared. I felt shock and despair. I felt anger at our irresponsibility. I felt like a burden, a problem that had to be solved. I felt sick. I felt alone. He made me feel loved.
We walked together, hand in hand, throughout the process. I truly felt it was a decision we came to together. I never felt pressured to choose abortion. We knew if we shared this secret with others they would influence our decision – for good or bad – and we didn’t want that. It always felt like the right thing to do, for us.
It was a sunny day in June and we both played hooky from our summer jobs. Calling in sick was more truth than anything that day. The day had arrived, the day we had discussed and planned for, but how do you really plan for an abortion? You don’t.
I don’t remember driving to the clinic. I don’t remember what we talked about. I don’t remember the name of the clinic. I don’t remember protesters. I don’t remember how many others were there. I don’t remember how long we were there. All I remember is how he made me feel.
I felt protected. I felt loved. I felt safe and secure. I felt like we were still making the best possible decision for us. I felt like if we could make it through this, we could make it through anything.
I bounced from room to room like a well-oiled machine. Going through the motions, never knowing exactly what was waiting behind each door for me. Each one requiring me to be more open, honest, and vulnerable than I ever cared to be. He was allowed to go into most of the rooms with me. Except one,THE one.
The door opened and I heard “Regulate” by Warren G playing on the radio. The doctor welcomed me and told me he would explain each step to me, making sure I knew what was going to happen before it did. The nurse took my hand and flashed a kind smile. I took a deep breath and hung onto every word Warren G and Nate Dogg sang. Every. Single. One. I just had to get through today. That was it.
I don’t remember how long the process took. I don’t remember the questions they asked. I don’t remember the answers I gave. I don’t remember what I was thinking, if anything. I don’t remember how many tears I cried. I don’t remember if I felt guilt or relief, or both. All I remember is how he made me feel.
I felt strong, yet weak. I felt powerful, yet powerless. I felt support, yet sought solitude. I felt it all.
I was escorted to a recovery room, where Lois brought him to be by my side. His eyes were red and I could tell he had been shedding tears as well. Lois assured me she took good care of him while I was in surgery. He knelt by my side and apologized for ever putting me in this situation. I assured him I was a willing participant in it all. No finger pointing, no need for blame.
The truth was we could never go back to that point in time, no matter what. We were bonded for life and our secret would eventually destroy us. We had no idea at the time, but that deep love we had for each other would fade.
Within a year, we found ourselves resentful and bitter, coping with grief in our own separate ways. I tried to talk with him, but he did not want to talk about it. I have always believed he said everything he needed to say that day, but to Lois – not me. He was able to open his soul and bare all the things he had been feeling to her. The focus was always taking care of me. He was neglected the whole time, except for the time he shared with Lois.
I don’t remember how he felt. I don’t remember how many tears he cried. I don’t remember his strength, or weaknesses, in those moments. I don’t remember his loss. I don’t remember his fear. I don’t remember his courage. All I remember is how he made me feel.
I felt guilty, I felt like the cause of his depression and increased drug use. I felt I was the reason he didn’t get accepted into the School of Architecture. I felt angry and betrayed, as this was not the life we had discussed for all those months and years.
Our lives carried on for a couple of years, but ultimately our relationship ended. I wanted a stronger commitment than he was willing to give. He wanted more freedom to live his newfound life.
Years would pass, but our paths kept crossing. And every time, every single one, my heart would skip a beat. It was not the love and lust beat from our teen years, but a simple and sweet beat, telling me that he is and will always be my ONE. Just not in the way I always imagined he would be.