by Kim Alcorn
I can still distinctly hear the disappointment and hurt in my mother’s voice.
“Are you pregnant?” she whispered. Her voice trembled, and her eyes were brimming with tears.
Those words echoed in my mind as I struggled to answer. Are you pregnant? Are you pregnant? “Yes,” I finally blurted, not able to meet her gaze. I couldn’t believe it was true. I never thought my mother would be asking me such a question – I never thought she would have needed to. But there was no getting around it; I was pregnant.
“Was it Danny?” she pressed on.
I nodded dumbly. Tears were beginning to slide down my own cheeks as I tried in vain to control myself. Next thing I knew, I’d collapsed on the floor in a heap of sobs.
There were no more questions because my parents were able to piece together the rest of the story for themselves.
Danny and I had been inseparable since we were four years old. What had started out as a childhood friendship had turned into a lifelong companionship, and we always knew we would spend the rest of our lives together. We were both raised strictly Baptist, which meant no sex before marriage. It was a belief we clung to as if our lives depended on it, knowing if we could be patient and trusting enough to wait, it would be worth it.
That Saturday night, three long weeks ago, started out just like any other Saturday night. Danny picked me up at 8p.m., and we went to The Moose’s Tooth for dinner, (a real treat that Danny had been saving up for). Then we drove out to Jitters Café in Eagle River to see the bluegrass band, McCloud, play.
It was midnight before we left Jitters, and as we started out to the car, we quickly realized it had been snowing as our feet sunk through the thin layer of white dust in the parking lot. Snow in October is normal for Alaska, so neither of us thought much about it. We simply got in the car, let it warm up for a minute, and then started the drive back to Anchorage.
About five minutes down the road, a moose jumped from the dark trees on the right and headed straight out in front of us. Danny swerved to keep from hitting the moose, and we slid until the back end of the car went right off the road and into a ditch. Neither of us was hurt, thank goodness, but the car was stuck. Despite all our efforts to push it and pull it, the car would not budge.
Danny and I had no choice but to hunker down and wait until morning. It wasn’t long before I was cold, so Danny offered to share his jacket with me.
You can imagine the rest.
And as I sat there in the floor of my living room with black mascara running down my face, and two completely crestfallen parents staring at me blankly, these images kept running through my mind. The passion and foolishness of that one night had doomed me for the rest of my life. I didn’t know how to face this. I didn’t know how to look my parents in the eye and ask forgiveness for such an unspeakable crime – something that had never even needed to be talked about in our household because of the certainty that it would never be an issue.
To my amazement, my mother sank to her knees and wrapped her arms around me. My father did the same. The three of us sat in the middle of the floor, and cried together. We wept for my mistake, and for the price many people would have to pay because of it.
Later that night, Danny and his parents came over to our house. It was almost unbearable to see him. His big brown eyes were so full of shame and humility that I felt completely crushed. I’d let down the one person I loved more than anyone else in the world.
The six of us sat down together to discuss what was to happen next. In truth, there wasn’t much to discuss. Danny was the first to say it, but we all knew it was inevitable.
“Marie, would you marry me?” he asked weakly, holding out a small, silver ring in the palm of his shaking hand. It wasn’t the romantic proposal I’d always imagined. It wasn’t even close.
“Yes,” was all I could say. My voice choked as I struggled to keep from crying, but as I looked around the table, I saw tears glistening on everyone’s cheeks. I couldn’t believe all the people we’d hurt with one single mistake. And they weren’t the only ones, either; I was painfully aware of God’s disappointment, and I also knew my baby would suffer its entire life for our solitary sin.
Afterwards, as my mom made coffee for us all in an attempt to lighten the mood, Danny and I took the opportunity to quietly slip outside. He took my hand in his and kissed it gently. Then we walked out to my old tire swing that hung from the giant birch tree in the front of our lawn. My dad had put that swing up for me when I was six years old, and I’d played on it faithfully ever since. Even though I was eighteen now, it was still my favorite spot in the entire world.
Neither of us sat down in the tire this time. We just looked at it. Danny reached out and pushed it absently. Memories flashed before my eyes like an old fashioned picture show. I saw Danny and myself on that same swing, years before, laughing and playing innocently in the summer’s warmth.
Now the ground was covered with snow, and crispy brown leaves late to fall clung in desperation to the tree branches. I shivered and pulled my jacket around me tighter. Danny put his arm around me.
“I know this isn’t how you wanted it to happen,” he said. He was going to say more, but then he stopped.
“No, it’s not,” I agreed.
“Marie, I’m sorry. From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for this mess I got you into. What happened was entirely my fault. I know I can never make this go away and I can’t fix it completely, but I’ll be a good husband and I’ll be the best father I can be. I love you more than you can know.”
His words tumbled out so quickly, I could barely grasp what he was saying. He was taking the blame for it. When I didn’t say anything, he continued, “We’re going to get married next week as if nothing ever happened, and our baby is going to grow up in a normal, Christian family. She’ll never even know any of this happened. It will just be our little secret, yours and mine.”
Danny had a way of making everything seem all right. “How do you know it’s going to be a girl?” I asked curiously.
Danny laughed and said, “I’m not, but I would consider myself lucky to have a daughter as strong and beautiful as her mom.”
My worries and fears slowly melted away as we talked. The world itself started to creep back into motion; the stars sparkled brighter, the wind was warmer, and I could even smell the spicy aroma of coffee wafting from our open window. My guilt was still there, as I imagine it always will be, but I no longer saw this as an impossible obstacle. Danny and I were working through it, and I was beginning to see this baby as a formidable, yet worthy, challenge.
That night, as snow began to drift down from the black sky, I realized God was full of second chances. Just as winter’s deathly grip would soon pass into spring, our mistake was blossoming into a new beginning, and somehow, I knew everything was going to be OK.