A Difficult Question
A sharp pain, focused on the right side of my neck, spreading to my head and halfway down my back woke me up. I was cuddled beside my beautiful wife, under a Hudson Bay trapper blanket and down comforter, topped with a quilt my grandmother made as a child. We were at our second home, a small condo nestled in the woods at 9300 ft in Summit County, Colorado. The fire in the front room had gone out and it was cold. I told myself, “I’ll just go back to sleep, all I need is rest and this awful headache will go away. It didn’t work. Sitting up, I felt the cold rush over my naked chest. I cocked my head to the side, praying to hear that wonderful pain-relieving crack. I stretched from one side to the other, again, no luck. It felt as if I had only made the vice on my neck tighter. I decided to try the chemical, hot shower and positive thinking approach. It was 4:23 in the morning. I was 37-years-old and I knew this entire headache was a result of my own self-induced stress.
Twenty-nine days ago, while sitting on the big leather sofa watching the Sunday political shows, I waited for my wife to return from our final diagnostic test at the fertility clinic. The extensive barrage of tests had all come back positive, meaning it just wasn’t our time yet to have a baby. As I watched the spin-doctors work their magic on the morning talk show, my wife came home, opened the door and bursts into tears. “I’m killing your sperm.” We hugged each other and I just wanted to comfort her. It killed me to see my wife in pain. We talked and I tried to listen, not fix, not finish sentences, just listen. As we cuddled on the couch and I watched the woman I loved in such pain, I learned that I am not to be a father. At first it didn’t really hit me. I was focused on my wife’s tears. Her pain. I could not begin to understand how she must have felt. Every strand of her being had been programmed from before her own birth to reproduce, nurture, and defend. In essence, to become a mother. This wasn’t to suggest that I was like an old Grizzly bear–fulfill my physical needs, move on and then if we should meet again, I might eat the little ones. I simply realized that I could not comprehend what my wife was feeling.
That Sunday was a long day.