I held the fate of two men in my hands.
One of them had to die, while the other would be spared. It would ultimately be my decision which one woke up the next morning. I tormented myself over this choice not because I didn’t know who I wanted dead, but because I wanted neither alive.
Both people had wronged me. Both were dangerous. And both were about to do terrible things. Neither deserved to live, yet one had to. In choosing one, I was choosing an ally, whether I liked it or not. What made matters worse was that I didn’t originally know I had a choice. I thought I was being led down a path. I stumbled upon information that told me otherwise, and I stopped to hesitate just long enough to make this an actual debate.
I couldn’t make the decision the night before, so I spent another day going on with my life. My wife quickly kissed me goodbye in the morning as she headed off for work a little before I actually woke up. I went on with my day, continuing to weigh the potential outcomes of either man’s murder.
Later that night, I found out that my wife was going to stay at late work. There were no more excuses. A decision had to be made while she was gone.
I played out every outcome, knowing that each was horrific. I went back and forth, literally pacing around until I saw the headlights shine through the windows. My wife was home. Already. The murder would have to wait.
I opened the door for her, not realizing how late it had quickly gotten. She was excited to see me after a long day, and couldn’t wait to tell me that she had found something for me. It was one more Christmas ornament that she wanted me to put on the tree this year. I opened it, telling her that she didn’t have to get me anything.
I saw blue and green come through the tissue paper, and couldn’t help but think that this was some weird combination of a Jets and Yankees ornament, even though I knew it was unlikely. Instead, it was personalized, and had the date of 12/8/11 with two other words that I read out loud:
I read the words, but was confused beyond belief. I looked at her and didn’t understand why she would buy me such an ornament considering we were hoping for a baby, but were not pregnant yet.
The next few seconds unfolded in the clearest memory I will ever have. She knew I didn’t get it yet, and was thrilled to say the words that we couldn’t wait to hear. She stood in the doorway and smiled with small tears in her eyes. Then, she blurted out in the happiest voice I had ever heard, “I’m pregnant!”
When I was younger, I wanted to be a baseball player. I loved everything and toyed with all other career paths, but baseball was my thing. I knew, eventually, that it would never happen, but I was okay with it. Because underneath everything, there was one other job that I had always really wanted. It would be the most important role I would ever play, and it was something I’ve wanted since I was a little kid.
Knowing that my wife always felt the same way about her life was one of the most important reasons we had fallen in love in the first place. One day. Someday. As I held Tina in my arms, with tears in my eyes, the moment had arrived. I finally had the words that I had waited my whole life to say.
“I’m going to be a dad!”
I have spent an entire decade with Tina. Every memory I have, and every experience I have encountered has been alongside my partner in crime. I will never forget our wedding day, the day I first asked her out, our first kiss, or any of the thousand great moments that we have shared together. But on the very top of the list of “our greatest days”, December 8, 2011 will stand alone.
To quote Taylor Swift, it was “the night we danced like we knew our lives would never be the same.”
Everything changed in that instant, and we were ready to welcome all of it. For a short time, Tina and I held a secret that only we knew. The greatest Christmas gift of all was growing inside Tina, and only the three of us would share this moment. One year ago, today, we found out that we were going to become parents.
I remember every single detail about that night, from dinner at Boston Market to taking pictures with the ornament and hiding it in my nightstand. I remember the way I felt, the way Tina looked, and how her voice sounded.
I do not remember what man I killed in my video game.
It didn’t matter. Nothing else mattered.
We were expecting.