Day Three: The Abortion & Remembrance

Age: Day 6,319 of my life [17 Years Old]
Date: 5 July 2006
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Category: Most Vivid Memory
People Involved: [Name Wittheld]

NOTE: I starting writing the memory about this event today.  Then I realized I had already written a detailed account.  Instead of writing the story again, he is the long version I’ve never shared.  This is my most personal memory.  I hope you like it.

In August of 2005, my first serious relationship began.  Our relationship developed quickly.  By the end of our first month, we talked openly about our views on sex and abortion.  By understanding what each other believed, we thought that our quick-paced relationship would be smarter and safer.  We agreed to use protection.  We also agreed that, if anything were to go wrong, abortion was the best option.  I lost my virginity in the days that followed.

Fast forward to May 2006.  We went to the same high school.  She was about to graduate.  I was still a junior.  Those final weeks of school were memorable and romantic.  Prom was perfect.  Soon thereafter, she graduated with honors.  Looking back at that period is difficult now. We were teenagers.  We were all over each other and enjoying life.  It’s ironic to realize that she was already pregnant.

In early June, she took the test.  I remember being upstairs at my house.  I sat on the couch and waited for her to come out of the bathroom.  When she did, she didn’t say anything.  I hugged her.  I was so calm.  It’s surprisingly easy to remain calm when your mind is in complete shock.  We stayed together for the rest of the day.  In the days that followed, we went over our options…kind of.  I don’t even remember discussing abortion versus adoption versus keeping it.  No.  Both our minds jumped to abortion.  Our choices consisted of how to do it.

We looked up the abortion laws for our state.  We quickly realized that there were parental notification laws.  Since she was still a few months away from turning 18, at least one of her parents would have to be notified.  That would not work with her parents.  We started researching the laws of the surrounding states.  We found a Planned Parenthood that was only a seven hour drive.  We knew it could work.  I don’t remember what broke us of the delusion.  We knew it would be a felony to transport her across state lines to receive an abortion.  I have a feeling that played a role.

Her parents were the problem.  Not mine.  One of her parents needed to be contacted.  Not mine.  After a short time, my mind settled enough to realize that I needed to tell my parents.  They are pro-choice and have helped me through every difficulty I have ever experienced in life.  They do not judge me.  They help me.  That is why I believe, to this day, that I have some of the greatest parents in the world.  I did all the research I could before sitting down with them.  My father drilled that into me my entire life.  Any boy can admit he needs help.  It takes a man to be a part of the solution as well.  I needed him to know that I was taking the situation seriously.

I don’t remember the date we sat down with them.  I remember everything else.  I remember where we sat.  I remember asking them if we could talk about something.  I remember feeling as if I left my body.  I remember saying the words: “She is pregnant.”  I remember my father putting his face in his hands.  I remember how fast my heart was beating.  We talked for hours—all four of us.  My mother helped me so much.  It was strange though.  She kind of broke away from my father and me to talk to my girlfriend.  She wanted to make sure she knew the gravity of the situation.

We came up with a plan.  We would fake her mother’s address and send it to our house instead.  My parents would pay for the procedure.  I would work labor around the house for the next few months in order to pay them back.  We went to the local Planned Parenthood.  We told them our decision and they scheduled us for an abortion.  The closest place that performed abortions was a Planned Parenthood a couple towns away.  They scheduled us for July 5th.  We gave the incorrect address for her mother’s notification.

I remember receiving the notification in the mail a few days later.  It was strange to realize how easy it is to maneuver around the law.  In late June and early July, I started to realize how much of an opinion I have on the side laws surrounding abortion.  Why do none of the laws concern the father?  Why do you notify the parents?  Why only one parent?  Why not the father’s parents?  Why the parents at all?  Why can’t we cross state lines to get an abortion?  Why is this kind of abortion only allowed in the first 17 weeks?  Would I feel differently if we waited longer?  What if she started to show?  It is incredible how many laws there are surrounding the big question: Should it legal or illegal?

I celebrated the Fourth of July with a free concert put on by Big & Rich.  It was awful.  I remember watching the fireworks afterwards.  I went with my girlfriend and two of our close friends.  I’m still close with one of those people today.  She remembers that day.  They knew something was going on.  They just weren’t sure what.  My girlfriend and I were in our own world.  The shock of the situation was still with me.  It wouldn’t wear off for many more months.

My parents decided not to cancel their weekend vacation.  On the morning of July 5th, 2006, the four of us drove to the appointment in two cars.  We met at the Planned Parenthood.  There was only one protester outside.  It didn’t matter.  We were told to go in the side door anyway.  My parents gave me the money and took off on their vacation.  I was 17.  I never felt more responsibility land squarely on my shoulders than the moment that my parents left that day.

We checked in.  The waiting room of an abortion clinic is strange.  Everyone knows why everyone is there.  There are older couples and young ones.  Most of the women there were accompanied my female friends.  The absence of the fathers unnerved me.  Nobody talked.  I couldn’t blame them.  What is there to say in a situation like that?  The atmosphere was all that we needed.  That room is etched into our collective memory.  We all remember that date on the calendar.

I wasn’t allowed to go into the room with her.  I had my laptop with me.  When she got called in, I started working on a paper I had to write for a summer college class.  I had to pick from a list of topics for the term paper.  I decided to take on an obscure issue: should the United States eliminate the usage of pennies?  I remember trying to focus on my argument.  I didn’t get very far.  It felt wrong.  I was trying to feel normal when normal was no longer possible.  It would be a while before I realized that normal was gone forever.

She didn’t look good when she came out from the procedure.  Not because of emotions or the procedure, however.  The problem was that she said yes to the drugs.  They were too much for her small body.  We left Planned Parenthood and stopped a couple blocks away to look at the baggy they gave her.  Everything felt wrong.  It was like receiving a goodie bag after a birthday party.  Inside was the most ironic gift—a month’s supply of birth control.

She needed something to overcome the drugs.  We went to the GoodTimes.  It’s right next to the college campus.  I still see it every time I’m there—which is now about twice a week.  I still remember sitting in there with her.  I still remember the feeling of numbness that consumed me.  We went home.  She stayed at my house that night.  I was still in shock—utterly unaware that my life had changed forever.

July turned into August.  I started my senior year of high school.  She started her freshman year of college—in the same town.  We continued to date.  But it was different.  August turned into September.  I started coming out of shock with the thanks of a few friends at school.  Once the shock passed, I had to start dealing with an impossible flood of emotions.  For a while, it got pretty bad.  I became deeply depressed.  I started seeing a young boy running around my house at night.  I was confused at first.  Then I realized it was my son.  I knew it wasn’t real…but it still scared me.

Our relationship was dead.  I talked with my parents about how to bring it to an end.  After being through something so intense together, it is difficult to figure out how to end it.  I picked a day—October First—and planned out how to end it.  I knew she would freak out.  I needed it to take place at her house so that I could leave instead of asking her to leave.  The night before, however, I couldn’t take it anymore.  We went to a party together.  After a few hours, I took her out back and under the porch so that we could be alone.

I broke up with her and walked away.  She started screaming bloody murder.  I kept walking.  I told my friend who was putting on the party that I was sorry.  My voice was already cracking.  I left as quickly as I could.  I cried all the way across town.  The relationship lasted longer than a year and contained a permanent tie that we will never be able to rid ourselves of.  I cried and cried and cried.  I called a new friend when I got to my park on the far edge of town.  We talked for hours.

I haven’t seen her in about three years.  The last I heard of her, she moved to Florida and got married.  I’m okay not being in contact with her.  I still think about her from time to time.  At some point in the future, I wouldn’t mind sitting down with her for a cup of coffee.  It’s still a bit too difficult for me at the moment.  I still think about my son too often.  I still don’t know how I feel about the whole situation.

I started going to a therapist towards the end of my senior year.  I was still deeply depressed and needed help.  After our first meeting, he gave me some homework—to write a letter to my unborn child.  It was at that time I realized that I thought of my unborn child not as an unborn child.  I think of him as my lost son…even though it was far too early in the pregnancy to tell.

While camping in the Rocky Mountains with some friends, I went off on my own and wrote.  I remember writing the name “Jaccob” at the top of the paper.  The words poured out of me.  I had so much to say.  I apologized.  I told him I would do my best to live in place of him.  Looking back, it is simple to tell that I was immensely confused in the early days.  I still am today…but it has become a part of me now.

I started telling by friends after about three or four months passed.  I told one.  Then two more.  Than anymore I considered to be a close friend.  Since then, I have developed a method.  I never tell anyone right off the bat.  I wait until I feel a strong connection.  When I tell them, I make sure we have time.  It’s become my method of gauging what friendships I consider to be strong.  If I tell them, I trust them.  If they listen and ask questions, I know they can listen.  I’ve had a couple friends who don’t know how to listen or take the situation seriously.  Those friendships didn’t last very long.

The anniversaries have come and gone.  I’ve commemorated them in my own way.  Alone.  With her.  With my girlfriend at the time.  Whatever.  Each year has been different.  I hate to say it, but I even forgot one year.  When I realized that I had forgotten, I felt even worse.  It’s strange how the anniversary of an event can pull you back to how it felt when it happened.

Today, as I write, is the fifth anniversary of the abortion.  Today I am spending the first half of my day alone and the second half of the day with friends.  I am remembering.  I even plan on going to the Planned Parenthood where it happened for the first time since the abortion.  It has been a strange day for so many reasons.  My mother usually hugs me the morning of the fifth.  Today she forgot.  I don’t have the heart to remind her.  She has enough on her mind.

I went to workout today.  While running, Fox News announced that the jury in the Casey Anthony trail had reached a decision.  I couldn’t figure out why I was interested.  I waited in anticipation while the court room filled up.  I felt a strange feeling of pity when they brought Casey Anthony into the courtroom.  I couldn’t figure out why I was so drawn to this story until the juror read aloud the words, “Not Guilty.”

I had a hard time not crying.  That’s when it hit me.  I feel a strange connection to this young woman.  She had an unwanted teenage pregnancy.  The baby would get in the way of a normal life.  We made different decisions.  I aborted.  Ms. Anthony did not.  I am compelled to believe the decision of the jury.  I can see myself in her place.  How is she supposed to be happy about being found not guilty?  Her baby is gone.  That’s the best way I can explain it.  I am happy that I get to grow up without a family I cannot support.  But at the same time, I feel guilty about the life that I have.  How am I supposed to be happy when my normal life comes on the heels of another’s death?

I used to say that I have no regrets in life.  Why?  Because every decision in my life has led me to where I am now…and I am happy with where I am now.  I can’t say that anymore.  I am still happy with where I am.  But I do feel regret.  My course in life effectively ended another life.  I may have started that life, yes.  But that does not give me the right to end it.  It is my only true regret in life.

I went home after working out and prepared myself.  I laid in bed and listened to the final few songs of my workout playlist.  I added a single song to it earlier in the day.  It is a song I have not dared to listen to in a long time.  It is the song that reminds me of my son.  I put the volume on full blast and curled up on my bed.

I could not stop crying.  With every lyric, visions of a life unlived flashed before my eyes.  I could see Jaccob playing with his cousins.  I could see him taking his first steps.  I could see every part of his young life.  He would be four years old.  He would turn five in February.  When the song comes to an end, my sobs end with it.  My blanket is drenched in tears.  I take comfort in knowing that my parents are in the garage and can’t hear me.  I bear the decision that I made.  I bear the responsibility that the decision created.

I miss you Jaccob.  I’ll see you in a few decades.

“Let It Go”
by Blue October

Where do you go
When the day is long?
And where does your heart beat
And who is wrong?

Why do I feel this way?
Why do I kneel?
How could I let it go?
Why do I feel?
Why do I feel?

Follow me home
Through the, the maze and on
I’ll show you the road
That I led you the wrong way on

Why did I go that way?
Why do I steal?
How could I let her go?
Why do I feel?

Oh why did I go that way?
Why do I steal?
How could I let her go?
Why do I feel?
Why do I feel?

Why did I go that way?
Why do I need?
How could I let her go?
Why do I feel?

Oh why did I go that way?
How could I steal?
Oh how could I?
How could I?
How could I?

How could I?
How could I?

Day Two: Kicked Out of a Bar
Currently on Day Three: The Abortion & Remembrance

Day Four: AIM Crush Realization

3 thoughts on “Day Three: The Abortion & Remembrance

  1. Hey, Richard. I’m proud of you; this is an incredibly difficult choice you made, and an incredibly brave choice to share it. All the philosophy and planning in the world doesn’t prepare you for the reality. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. Exactly the same thing happened to me. In the end, we made the other choice. I’ll tell you about it if you want to hear, but not unless.

    Take care, friend. You’ll never forget, but you should be proud of your strength.

  2. I would love to hear your story. I’ve starting seeing people my age with kids that would be the same age as Jaccob…and i can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if we made a different decision.

    And thank you….a lot. It’s nice to hear something positive about the situation.

  3. So I’m rather shocked that you posted this for anyone to see on your blog without asking me first. It’s not something I like being public knowledge, or even semi-private… I’ve told maybe 5 people myself. Since it’s out here I’ll say this. Times then were rough because we were teenagers and I have some weird hormonal imbalance going on that has generally trashed my life since I was 12. For me, that definitely underpinned my decision, and knowing your regret now would never have changed it. I do greatly appreciate your parents’ support though. What happened was unfortunate I suppose, and so are a lot of things, including how erratic I acted and how I treated you, how this hormonal/health crap keeps me sick for 12 years now, how nothing was done before the pregnancy, the whole thing to begin with, and now finding this blog too I guess.

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