Have you ever had to make a decision about something and you let your worry about maybe getting “in trouble” or what other people think influence you, or even decide for you? Most likely, and who hasn’t?
Here is an example of what I mean…
He’s 19, she is 16. They had been planning a future together for a long while. To be together, marry, have a family, and chase after what they expected to be a happiness they both wanted.
They both had tough childhoods, and had gone through more than their fair shares of pains, rejections, and lack of love. But, now they had each other. They had made plans and they were doing their best to make their plans work out. Although they were both young and inexperienced, and not yet very wise, they knew what they wanted and hoped to live their dreams together somehow. To be a family, the kind of family they always wanted to have for themselves, but never felt that that did so far. They were making big plans, and that meant making big decisions. It was going to be tough, but that wasn’t anything new for either of them. Rather than just waiting and trying to get everyone’s approval and blessings before they would act on their plans, they just went ahead. When you’re young, sometimes the only answer you ever see clearly is “Just do it”. They did.
His plan, shared with her, was to enlist. They had discussed their plan at great length. Get established, get some skill that could be a career, get more education, have a steady income and some job security. They were bound and determined to make this work, make an “end run” around all of the people and obstacles that never ceased to put them down and hold them back.
The people around them didn’t know all of their plans. Only the most obvious things were known, things that couldn’t be hidden. There is no way to be discrete about enlisting and heading off to boot camp. Her getting pregnant before he left, that could be discrete, at least for a while, and that was part of their plan. They wanted a life together, to be married, and to have a child. It wasn’t a mistake, her getting pregnant. Once it got to the point where her pregnancy would become known, they were both of a mind that everyone around them would certainly want them “to do the right thing”, and they would have to get married, which was in fact what they wanted and was already part of their plan together.
Boot camp. Being apart is very hard on them. They had spent time together nearly everyday, all that they could. The phone bills for both families went through the roof. Calling and spending time on the phone pissed off both families. Their families being pissed off wasn’t anything new, and they both looked forward to the times when they wouldn’t have to deal with it that much, if at all, any longer.
Very close to the end of boot camp, things were getting really tough on her. Her family was giving her a pretty hard time. She thought they were on to her, that they were suspicious that she was pregnant, and that she was beginning to show just a little. Her mom was wondering why she didn’t seem to be using any feminine monthly products.
The weekend before boot camp graduation, the whole company got a weekend pass. They had also just gotten paid as well. Another guy from his boot camp group was going to the same base, for the same training, as he was. They decided to take a short bus ride and go see what they could in Philadelphia.
He and his buddy visited a few historical sites and did some sight seeing around downtown. They split the cost of the cheapest downtown Holiday Inn room downtown. Before the weekend was over, he’d talked with his girl on the phone a few times. Things back home were not going well for her at all. Parents and relatives were getting ugly and hostile. He had to go back home, try to get things back on track, keep their plans together. He would be going AWOL and he knew he’d be getting in to some kind of trouble because of that, but he had to go. She meant everything to him, nothing he wouldn’t sacrifice or endure for her that he could. Now, he’d known for a long while too that he also had a yet to be born child too. He went to the Greyhound station and bought a one-way bus ticket back home, for them both. He had to go.
Everyone was pretty surprised when he just showed up back home. Things had to be done, made to work, and that meant a lot of shit was about to hit the fan for them. It did. Many things happened, a lot was said. Most of it wasn’t very pretty. A cousin of his counseled and advised him as to what would be best to handle his going AWOL, and what to do on his return to base. Actually, that was the easy and least scary part. Getting the parents to be willingly endorse their plans was another matter. Especially her parents at that time. It got ugly, Very, very ugly.
Every battle has a turning point. Once achieved, the outcome of that battle is certain. But, in all battles, there are injuries, wounds and casualties. All battles have a cost. This battle was no different in those ways than any other.
She was 16, pregnant, and not independent and “emancipated”. They needed at least one of her parents to sign off on permission for her to get married. With the situation as it was, they needed to get married as soon as they could now.
Things came to a head one night, while they were at his parents house. The talks, negotiations, what ever you want to call them, for her mom to sign the papers needed so she could marry him, had been going on for what seemed like forever. One night, her mom shows up where they are, at his parents house. The confrontation begins.
Her mom had decided not to give permission, and she also made it very clear that she would be taking her daughter for an abortion as well. Her mom had shown up that night, fully intending to physically drag her daughter out of that house and take her home. Her mom was also making it clear that this child she was carrying would be aborted, not born ever, if she had her way.
Use your imagination. Imagine the screaming, the yelling, the tears, the anger, the emotions, taking place there. One person physically trying to drag away another. Another person caught in the middle, carrying an unborn person inside, trying not to go. A third person, who forces his way between them, because he’s decided that he won’t let anyone take away his girl or his unborn child. The wrestling is intense, and the future mother in law won’t back off. It reaches a “do or die” moment, the turning point of that battle. He draws a weapon on her. A blade. It’s just a stubby, beat up, dull, electricians blade of a folding knife. It works. The future mother in law is still angry, violent, and making threats, but she does physically back off. In a few minutes, she has left, drove away, gone home.
What’s going to happen next, he wonders to himself for a few moments. At this time, he’s won a battle that was dearly important to him. He still has his girl and his yet to be born child with him, and for the moment they are all safe. For the future, what ever it may be bringing, he hopes for the best.
There is a lot more that follow this story, and many more stories that would follow. Lifetimes in fact. But, those are for some other time of writing.
The moral of this story… If you love someone, you care about someone, they mean something to you, and you’ve accepted the responsibility that comes along with living a commitment, you do what you have to do for them. You don’t worry about anything that might happen, or maybe getting in trouble. You just take care of your own. Simple as that.
Going deep… It’s not just about one person, right or wrong. It never is. Once you’re able to see things, how they all tie together, it becomes clear. It’s about generations that would never be, if that battle had never taken place or had been lost. Think about it…
It’s too easy to judge people on a few superficial “heat of the moment” instances. There is good and bad in everyone, and a whole lot in between. It’s called being human. You can’t just look at all the mistakes, all of the wrong things, someone has done. As you demand fairness, you should also give it. As you expect understanding, you should also try to be understanding. As you will need forgiveness, you should also offer it. You have to look at and consider all of the things they got right, did right, and those extra miles they went in spite of the pain and suffering, maybe just for you. Even when you think you know it all, know everything, you don’t. You have no idea of what it’s like to have traveled in their shoes. People are complex creatures. No two alike, not one perfect.
The future mother in law to be, what became of her? She stayed the same bitter, angry, person she had always been before. Who knows what it must have been like in her shoes walking through life? I don’t think any gets like that intentionally, then stays that way willingly. It’s not a happy existence to be ruled by anger and hate. In the end, at least the end of this short story, she did finally concede. Not sure if it was a change of heart though? Maybe she just gave in because that was the easiest way out at that time for her?
A few weeks later, he got a delay en-route, before going off to the base where he would start training, school, for his chosen military career. His future mother in law to be signed the necessary papers, and his girl became his wife. They got married before a judge. Both mother in laws were there, his and hers. They did what they wanted to do, what they had planned to do, and that’s all that mattered to them right then. They were on their road.
If he had hesitated, not acted at all that night, there would be several grand kids that would have never came to be. Of course, if it had gone that way, there is no way for anyone to have known that. You can’t miss what never was, nor whom never will be. The next time you have to make a decision. Maybe even fight a battle? You think about that… You think about how someone may have put it all on the line, maybe more than once, just for you, and you never knew.
I know that some days he wonders what life would have been like if he’d lost that battle, or not even acted as he did. Only two things for sure… It would have been very different. How it may have been is something that will never be known, ever.