When I was in college, I dated and fell in love with a raven-haired beauty. She was gorgeous, smart, fun, and in love with me. Not having a good moral formation, I saw no reason to keep chaste with her. To me the proscriptions of the Catholic Church and Christianity in general against premarital sex were inane and made no sense. Of course, it's not like I took the time to learn why the Church taught as it did. All I knew was that I wanted to engage in sexual intercourse, and the Church was saying no because it just wanted to spoil my fun, by golly. Ergo, Church be stupid.
Well, one beautiful May evening, my girlfriend and I made love. Thankfully, I remember few acts of such congress with her, but this one, it's almost like I have a video of it playing in my head. At the time, I knew something special was happening, but I thought it was just that our love was growing deeper.
Several weeks later, I learned that it wasn't that our love was growing deeper, but rather there was something growing deep inside of her: A baby. When she told me, I was fearful. I was shocked. I was a little bewildered. For a brief second, I thought to myself, "OK, abortion." I was in college, over a year from graduation: How would I support a baby? But it was just that: A moment. It came and passed, and I pushed the idea out of my head as being utterly, ludicrously wrong. The end doesn't justify the means.
The problem was that she kept on that track, the abortion track. She was a nursing student, and she was not about to let a baby interfere with her plans to get her degree. Fine, I said, we'll put the baby up for adoption. No, she replied, I won't have my child being raised by strangers. Is there nothing I can do to change your mind? I asked. Well, if you tell my parents, they'll be sure I won't go through with it. However, the second you do, we are through. I will never speak to you again.
And because I loved the concrete, tangible, beautiful reality of her more than I did the child growing within her, I said nothing. I was mute.
Today, I think she's an oncology nurse in southern California. I don't know, really. Is she married? No clue. Does she have children? Ditto. Our love began to die with the abortion. And so I traded the life of my child for a relationship that, ultimately, meant nothing. It was a gut check moment, and, frankly, I failed.
Sometimes, I fantasize about going up to her parents' door, knocking, and telling her mother, "Your daughter's pregnant, and I'm sorry for that, but she wants to abort our baby and says the only way she won't is if you know about it." Sometimes I fantasize about saying, "Look, you do this, and I'll go to the media." (Her uncle is a prominent Catholic.) But they're fantasies. ephemeral shades and spectres that both haunt and are futile. They don't send me back in time. They don't undo the damage done. They simply mock me.
So let's look at the factors that led up to this:
- Poor formation on my part. Had I understood the beauty and gift of chastity, I may have still fallen, but maybe I wouldn't have. But my rejection of Church teaching absolutely led to my falling into sin. (Catechists, do your job. Be not afraid.)
- My girlfriend's seeing her career more important than the life inside of her.
- My seeing my relationship with her more worth saving than my baby boy.
When life presents us with these moments, it is so hard to make that step in the right direction. Hard but necessary. How many babies like my son would have been saved had their fathers stepped up? I can't answer that question. All I can say is that there is one less beautiful person alive in this world today, and that will always make me very sad.