“Life has been cloudy and gray. Let’s take the bad memories and put them away. The sun has come out oh we’ve waited so long. All of the hard days are gone.”
Alexandra Christine Gouveia.
MJ and I don’t know for sure if we were having a boy or a girl. It was still kind of early to tell, not to mention the legs were fused together which made it hard to determine the sex. But we both agreed we were having a girl this time around. After all, I figure only a girl could be this much trouble!
We liked the idea of a boy’s name for a girl. We would’ve called you Alex for short. And as an added bonus you would’ve been named after one of our best friends, Alex (aka TheBear on these forums). Your initials, ACG, would’ve been the same as mine. And I have no doubt you would’ve been smarter than me and more beautiful than your mother.
A few people have asked why we don’t just save the name if we like it so much, and use it if we have another daughter in the future. But that sentiment right there epitomizes all my fears.
My biggest worry through all of this is that no one will remember Alex.
After all, she wasn’t born. She has no birth certificate. There was no funeral. Although MJ and I will always remember her, the rest of the world will surely forget. And to me, there isn’t much worse in the world than irrelevance. People tried to comfort us by saying there had to be a silver lining, or that somehow some good would come of this. But those words carried no weight in my mind. How could they? My baby and our dreams were dying right in front of our eyes. How do you possibly find any good in that?
Well, I found the answer.
The response I received after posting my encounter with the protesters was nothing short of overwhelming. It was viewed by thousands of people all over the world. It was on the front page of Twitter. And of those thousands, hundreds left comments and sent e-mails that made me laugh, made me cry and just plain moved me.
I did not have a master plan when I decided to turn my camera phone on and give them a piece of my mind. I just knew they had hurt my wife, and I will confront anyone who injures her in any way. I had no intentions of making a political statement or becoming a lightning rod in an already contentious and deeply personal issue. I simply knew I wanted to show their hypocrisy and hopefully show other people the hurt protesters indiscriminately spew at women who all have different backgrounds and different stories.
I had no idea the kind of chord it would strike with people around the world.
Shortly after I posted it, the e-mails and comments started trickling in. And then the flood gates opened. I was bombarded with notes of thanks and atta-boys. And I was appreciative of that. But then the testimonials came in and those changed my life forever.
Some of you shared deeply personal stories with me. Some of you were in the same position as we were, with a fetal abnormality deemed terminal. And like us, your problems were unnecessarily and cruelly compounded by these people who say they’re “only trying to help.” And then there were those of you who made me openly weep, telling me stories of how you were impregnated after a rape. After suffering the indescribable atrocity of being sexually violated like that, the thought of hostile zealots shouting at you all because you didn’t want to carry a rapist’s baby made me sick to my stomach. I can’t even imagine. One by one, on and on the e-mails kept coming. And I read each and every one of them, committing them to memory and keeping them close to my heart.
And that’s when I realized Alexandra’s brief life absolutely meant something. Something very important actually.
Alex may never have seen the light of day, but it’s because of her I was able to shine a light on the bullying and fear-mongering being performed on “God’s behalf.” And limited although my resources may be, I was able to share our story with thousands of others. Even people who consider themselves pro-life, who e-mailed me and told me our saga had changed the way they look at the issue. Sure we still don’t agree on the issue, but that’s OK. I’m not looking for everyone to have the same viewpoint here. What I am seeking is respect. Basic human decency. Something those pro-life (an misleading characterization if ever there was one) protesters are severely lacking.
And I can say without hesitation that our 16-week-old Alex changed a handful of opinions.
She also did something equally important. Little Alex made me a better man, father and husband. Life is never more precious than when you lose it. As pained as I was by losing Alex, she made me love my wife and son even more. When those people cut down my wife at her weakest point I felt the very core of my male DNA power up to prehistoric levels. I went into Protector Mode. At that point the only difference between me and my caveman descendants was my cell phone camera. Not that I didn’t love my wife before, but this reminded me just how much I love her. How strong and beautiful and wonderful she is. And it also renewed my appreciation for Will, who is happy and healthy. I will never take that for granted ever again.
So we will think of another name if we have a daughter in the future, because we already had a daughter named Alex. And while we never got to meet her, we will love and remember her forever. And hopefully so will some of you.