The Fence that Killed a Child

I remember the first time I felt a devastating loss. As anyone who has would. It was something that I had not mentally planned for. Typically, this type of loss is not something you are “prepared” for. You can prepare for many things in life, but the truth is, will you ever be prepared for loss?

If you consistently prepare for such, what kind of life are you living?

It was a normal warm day in Texas. I was in the middle of trying to move homes, work, handle a divorce from months prior, and make the woman I fell in love with after the divorce, healthy while carrying my son. The previous day, we had been to the OBGYN and were told we were having a healthy baby boy. Everything was great! I had not had kids in my previous twelve-year marriage due to a medical condition which made it hard, but not impossible. I was blessed to have had this happen. This in my mind, was spectacular.

Going back a bit during this time we were also having to pack and move for the second time in less than three months. We succumbed to an unscrupulous realtor who had added an addendum into a lease with option to buy contract. We had to put a fence up while we were in the initial six-month lease portion. Then we were to buy the home at a contracted price. The thing was, I had just asked permission before we moved in to install a fence. We had three dogs. In case something happened, I didn’t want the owner being upset we added a fence. In fact, they were all for it and agreed after I sent pictures of the wrought iron fence we picked out. The realtor put it in the contract as an addendum and I signed.

It was a tough beginning to a relationship. My fiancé had a young boy and he had been moved a few times before. This was not her intentions and was settled where she was when we reconnected. She had a decent career, even though stressful, was doing well for herself and son. I had known her since elementary school. She had my heart at twelve years old, but never knew it. Again, another long story! I had sold her into moving closer to where I worked at the time since she worked from home.  Either way, we were in love and trying to do the best we could. We both had rough first marriages and somewhat a lot of baggage. Who does not? Unbeknownst to me, my alcoholism and unmedicated mental illness were taking a toll on my new family. We scraped everything we had together to make this move our grand move into a new life and a happy one. It was a scary step, but we took it.

faceless person resting on bed in room
Photo by Rachel Claire on

I remember the home. We loved it. I remember the stress in my mind. Wanting everything to be perfect, I went to great lengths to make things happen. I wanted her to experience life like she had not experienced before. Just wanting her to understand what it is like to love, live, and be happy. That is all. Is that not what you want for your family? Problem was my engulfing alcoholism and around this time I sought medical assistance for depression and anxiety. This came with medication. I still drank hard and often. What was I running from? I knew, just never spoke of it.  It caused undue stress to my wife and family. It started effecting my work and relationship. I don’t remember much, which tells me it was not good. The financial issues, my previous marriage of twelve years still stirring in my blood, the moving around, trying to be a good man to my soon to be wife and her son. It was a very dark moment in what should have been a moment of light and love. My mind was a prisoner to the past.

Then the realtor emailed me a few months into the contract. Inquiring when the fence was going to installed. I replied with a simple explanation of unexpected finances, and we were trying to get caught up from the move. I didn’t think much about it. Why was she so interested in the fence? I received a response a few hours later stating that the owner in lieu of asking for more earnest money, had agreed that a fence would suffice and show my intentions to purchase the home. Well, I thought the earnest money I had put up was very generous. It is almost all I had being months out of a divorce. Earnest money is typically standard in sought after markets where housing is hard to get. We were in the country of a very low-income area where real estate was stale and on the market for months. I was very confused as the emails turned into demand letters. For a damn fence!

During all this, I was working and trying to keep my wife out of the loop as she had stressors from her job and the everyday life of being a mother and now carrying my child. My unborn child being my priority even though it didn’t show through my darkness. I had to tell her about the fence issue. Between her very stressful job, the move, financial issues, my alcoholism, my mental state, and now this fence. Things were not good. So, as any good partner in a relationship should do, I broke the news.

Then came the letter delivered to my workplace. We were in breach of contract. We had to install a fence immediately or move. I did have a home about forty miles away. I was leasing it out. I was waiting for the lease to come to an end so I could sell it. It was the home my previous wife and I occupied, therefore, not the home I wanted to start a new chapter in. I had no choice at this point. We had to start repacking to move. Failure set in.

grayscale photo of man sitting

Then the week we were to move, the owner emailed me stating that he would be there to “check things out” and tend to the pool and property. Which I had already done, but okay? I wasn’t going to deny him. In all this, the owner seemed to be the level-headed one. The emails from the realtor and the owner were night and day. Made me wonder what was going on, but just made me want to get out so I wasn’t receiving threating emails from the realtor almost every other day. My fiancé was pushing down all that and I wasn’t seeing it. She was under serious stress about having to move again and the threatening demands.

The day the owner came to the house, I was at work. My fiancé and I had come from the OBGYN the day before and were given positive information and how healthy our boy was. Then the phone call came while the owner was at the property. She called and said she felt like she was in labor. There was no way! She was only 27 weeks in. I rushed home and she was a mess. Crying in pain and bleeding. I went into a calm state and all business. The business was to get her to the hospital as soon as I could. I got her in my truck and made a beeline for the emergency room. This became the day I will never forget. As many firsts always stick with you, this is not one I would wish on anyone.

The time at the hospital was horrendously painful for us both. Seeing my soulmate in this pain that I could not fix. Praying that it is just some weird thing that can be corrected. I was asked to leave while they rushed her to surgery. I was told then. Somehow, someway, the pregnancy had gone wrong. The doctor had never seen this before. Nothing the doctor could attribute to why. We lost our son. I was numb. In shock. I walked outside. I walked through the parking lot and across the road to an adjacent field. I stood there for a moment and then sat down. The feeling I felt was heavy and of pure sadness. We lost a child, and my beloved lost a part of her. How can I fix this?  I always try to “fix” things. It is my profession. Well, this is something that has not resolution. My tears grew heavy for the loss and what my wife is going through.

As I sat there, I made a few phone calls to friends and her family. They were short and informative. I had no time to talk. I got up and walked for a bit up across the small field. I came up to a wrought iron fence. The same design we had picked out and were going to install at the house we were moving from. At that moment in time, that fence represented so much. I wanted to destroy it. I wanted to tear it from the ground it sat in as a perimeter. I knew from then on, I wanted a life without “fences”.  A life far away from greed and materialism. To live in a world devoid of agendas. Yet, I fell further into the clutches.


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