The Day I Killed The Pope

24 Jul

It was ten years ago now, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was April 2, 2005. I think it was a Friday. I was 23 years old, second year of law school, and three home pregnancy tests had just informed me I was not alone. 

I was, at the time, in a serious relationship with a fellow law student. We were both stunned by the positive tests and I made a doctors appointment for as soon as possible to confirm. The boyfriend did not come with me to the doctor. Instead, I was escorted by my father. 

My dad and I were always buddies. I was his youngest, his wild one, his ‘Mighty Moe.’ We would play ball in the backyard together for hours. He taught me how to mow the lawn, how to drive a car, and how to shoot beer cans with a BB gun. I asked him, once, if he was sad neither my sister nor I were boys. He was incredulous. “Why would I be? I had you.”  We spent Saturday mornings together on the streets, him jogging and me on my bike. We spent Sunday mornings together in church, him with his head reverently bowed in prayer, me crawling under the pew. We had a secret signal with each other. We were buddies.

It was an awkward car ride. The news of my surprise pregnancy had been delivered by my mother and so I was still unsure of my father’s reaction. He had promised love and support, but was he hurt? Angry? Or, worst of all, disappointed in me?

There didn’t seem to be anything to say right then and so we were silent the whole way. For early April in Chicago, it was a beautiful day. Warm weather, sunshine, soft breeze. The windows rolled down, we continued on side streets through the heavily Polish neighborhood to the unfamiliar doctor recommended by my insurance as available that day. 

As we drove, John Paul II lay dying half a world away. The papal death watch had begun in Rome that morning. Crowds gathered in the square, crying, praying, preparing to mourn. Announcers gave updates in hushed voices, and through the open car windows we could hear the surrounding Polish neighborhood holding its breath. 

We arrived at the doctors office. I asked my father if he wanted to come inside, he grunted his decline. He stayed in the car, radio on. I went inside and figuratively faced the music. 

It didn’t take long for the results to come in – I was definitely with child. I was given some prenatal vitamins and referrals. I was slightly more prepared for the news now that I had three home pregnancy tests under my belt but I was still terrified. 

I stumbled to the car. Dad turned down the radio. “Well?” 

“Yup. I’m definitely pregnant.”

As I finished the “-ant”, the tone on the radio shifted. Black smoke was now appearing. Pope John Paul II had died. My father looked at the radio. Looked at me. Looked at the radio. In a voice filled with equal parts astonishment and amusement, he cried, “You killed the Pope!”

And that was when I knew we would be fine. 

  

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