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  • Alexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

If someone walked up to me three years ago and told me that I would be waking up early every Saturday morning to take my daughter to ballet class, I would have laughed in their face. Yet, here I am, the only dad sitting on the sidelines watching my little girl struggle to follow the choreography her ballet instructor created. Being Lizzy’s father is one of the most important jobs I will ever have in my life, But I didn’t always feel that way. The night Lizzy was conceived, it was my best friend Mike’s 30th birthday. Nasima, Lizzy’s mother, and I had been drunk dancing together all night, so it was inevitable for us to end up going home together. When we got into to her apartment, we wasted no time getting undressed. Neither one of us stop to think about protection we just went for it. The next morning when I woke up, I slowly slipped out the bed quietly grabbed my clothes and left. To be honest she was just a woman I smashed that night and I wasn’t planning to see her again.


Boy was I wrong. On, June 4th, 2017, I received a text from a random number saying “Hi Lance, it’s Nasima, from Mike’s birthday. Can you please give me a call today when you get the chance? I have something very important to share with you.” The first question I asked myself was “What’s so important that she needs to speak to me?” Then I screenshot the message and sent it over to Mike to get his take on it. He instantly replies with the curious emoji face. He went on to explain that she is one of his wife Natalie’s college friends that just moved to town. I replied with a thumbs up and went back to work. That night when I arrived home, I grabbed a drink, sat on the couch and called Nasima. The phone didn’t even ring three times before she picked up. She said “hello?” I responded, “Hey Nasima, it’s Lance.” She took a few moments to respond. I repeated myself again. She finally responds and says “Hi, thank you so much for calling me.” I said, “no problem”. She took a deep breath and say’s “I went to the doctor today because I haven’t been feeling like myself for two weeks now. I thought I had food poising, but it turns out I’m two weeks pregnant.” When she said those words, I think I stopped breathing for about two seconds. Frantically I asked her was she certain it's not food poising. She responded, “They took a urine and a blood test, and they both came back positive.” I was so shocked my mind couldn’t even form any words to speak. We sat in silence for a few minutes. She broke the silence by saying “I know this isn’t the conversation you planned to have today, but I wanted to give you the option of being a part of your child’s life. I will give you a couple of days to make a decision.” All I could say was thank you. We both said our goodbyes and we hung up the phone.


I remember drinking the whole bottle of whisky my father gifted me when I received my promotion at the firm earlier that year. After that phone call I went through the 7 stages of grief in one night. First, I was in complete denial that I was truly her baby’s father. It had to be food poisoning. Then I started feeling guilt. Nasima seemed to be a good woman. I began to see how much this would change her life and how lost she must be feeling at the moment. But as was thinking about her life changing, I began to get angry at myself. How could I be so stupid and not use a fucking condom? The sex wasn’t even that great from the little parts that I could remember. By 2am I had become full on depressed. I sat on my living room floor drunk writing a pros and con’s lists on being part of my unborn child’s life. I was just getting my life together. Where was a child going to fit into my lifestyle? The next morning when I woke up, I lifted my head from my extensive pros and con’s list and at the bottom of the page in big letters circled was “I’M GOING TO BE A FATHER”. I took a deep breath grabbed my phone, texted Nasima and said, “I’m going to be a father”.


It seemed like things went into autopilot once I sent that text. I had to share the news with my parents before my big mouth sister Lisa got wind of the news and decided to share it on my behalf. Every weekend our family gathered for Sunday dinner, a tradition that has been in my family for decades. My sisters, their families and I gather at my parent’s home. Being the youngest of the family and the only boy, I wasn’t sure how my mother would take the news. During dinner my father always asks everyone if they have some exciting news to share with the family. My oldest sister Laurie shared that she has decided to open a second location for her salon. Everyone clapped and congratulated her. My little niece Kelly shared that she had been casted for a part in the musical being presented at her school. Everyone clapped and congratulated her. As I sat with a smile on my face watching my older sister Leah cheer on her daughter. I couldn’t help but picture me being a supportive father to my future son or daughter. After the congratulations died down for my niece, my dad asked if anyone else had something to share before he blessed the food. I softly spoke and said, “I do”. I took a deep breath and said I’m having a baby. The room got extremely quiet, then my sister Lisa burst out in laughter. Everyone was confused by her response. My mother asked her out of annoyance why she was laughing? She replied “mom, Lance isn’t having a baby and if he is, it’s probably by some random girl he met at a party”. Everyone quickly looked back at me for an explanation. My nieces and nephews were sitting at the table, so I gave them the very edited version. She was a girl I was hanging out with last month, we decided to part ways and last week she found out she was pregnant. That Sunday dinner was the quietest dinner I had ever experienced in my life. It took my parents a couple weeks to swallow the “Lance is having a kid” pill, but once they did, I began to truly accept that I was going to be a father.


As months went on Nasima and I began to get close. If she wasn’t at my house, I was at hers. Our common goal was to make sure our baby girl was healthy. When you’re preparing for a baby, there are some important decisions you have to make as future parents. Our first important decision was whose house will we be building the nursery in? In my excitement for the arrival of the baby, I quickly agreed to the nursery being in my home. Not taking into consideration that I had just agreed to Nasima moving in with me. Within a matter of two weeks, she had completely taken over my house. I didn’t mind it at first because I knew us coming together under one roof would benefit our daughter. Things took a drastic turn after our baby shower when Nasima decided to move her mother in without discussing it with me.


We initially agreed that her mother would come and stay for a couple of weeks after the baby was born to help. So, you can imagine my surprise when I arrived home from work to Nasima and her mom relocating all the equipment from my game room to the basement. I quickly became defensive asking Nasima what she was doing in my game room. She responded in a quirky tone and said, “setting up my mom’s room”. I asked Nasima if we could speak in private. I walked into my bedroom, and she followed. I closed the door behind her, and she asked me “what’s going on?” I replied, “I could ask you the same question”. With an attitude, she said "what’s that’s supposed to mean?” I took a deep breath and explained that we didn’t agree to her mother moving in. We agreed to her coming to stay with us for a couple of weeks after the baby was born. She quickly cuts me off and says “first, my mother isn’t moving in. I asked her to come up a little earlier to help us prepare for the baby. With you working all the time, we could use all the help we can get.” I replied “Look, I understand that this is our first time having a baby and doing something like this, but I just ask that you please run things by me first before you start inviting people and making changes to my home.” She replied, “will do!” And walked out the bedroom and slammed the door.


Nasima’s due date was three weeks away and I was getting nervous as hell. I was excited to meet my baby girl, but I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be a great dad. Most of the times in my life when I was nervous my pops would mysteriously call me with words of wisdom. But this time it was my older sister Laurie. Since I was a little boy, Laurie and I have always been very close. No matter what choices I’ve made in my life she has always supported me, but since the pregnancy announcement, she has been kind of keeping her distance. So, when I received a call from her, I was shocked. I answered the phone with hesitation and said “hello?”. She quickly responded, “Why do you sound like you’re surprised to hear from me?”. I admitted that I was surprised. She changed the subject by asking me how the baby was doing? If we had everything ready? Did I get a car seat for the car yet? After her series of questions, I asked “How did you prepare for Lilly and Nicholas?” She took a deep breath and said “I didn’t. I just took everything one day at a time. As a parent you can read all the books and come up with all these different plans, that’s all great. But you won’t really know what to do until you hold your little girl in your arms, and she looks into your eyes. Something about that first eye contact with your child that's when you make a promise to them that you will do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need.” As I sat there listening to her give her advice, my nervousness began to melt away. She went on to say “I believe you’re going to be a wonderful dad. You just have to believe it too.”


Nasima’s water broke at 3 am on March 1st, 2018. When we got to the hospital Nasima called me to the side of her bed and said, “Lance if anything happens to me promise me that you will take care of our little girl.” I replied, “I promise” Shortly after the nurses came back to roll her to the delivery room while I went to go get suited up. When I walked in the delivery room, the doctor was between Nasima’s legs getting prepared for the delivery. I walked around to the front of the blanket where Nasima’s head was and grabbed her hand. I kept repeating “you got this!”. The doctor said, “Nasima when I tell you to push give me the biggest push you can, okay?” Crying through the words she says “OKAY!”. Within a matter of minutes, she started pushing and as I’m looking over the cover, I could see Lizzy’s little head coming out. Nasima pushed again and her arms came out next. a couple more pushes and Lizzy had arrived into the world. They cleared her lungs and she started crying. I looked down at Nasima and smiled. They cleaned her off and handed her to me. As soon as I held her, tears came to my eyes. Then she opens her eyes and looked at me and that promise my sister said I would make, happened. The fear of letting her down as a dad didn’t even cross my mind. All I wanted to do was keep her safe and be the best dad I could be to her.


From the moment Lizzy arrived in the world I have been part of her life.


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  • Alexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

By Alexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

Have you ever met a person that just understood you right away? That was me and my friend Mary we met during our first day of high school, we instantly connected. We both were complaining about having gym as our first period of the day. Our disgust for sweating in the morning brought us closer after that day we were always attached at the hip. Mary was outgoing and extremely determined to become this big Broadway actor her dream was to move to New York and became a big star. I always knew she had the talent to take on Broadway. High school ended, and it was time for us to follow our dreams. Mary was accepted into New York Acting School and I was accepted into Howard University School of Law. Our schools weren’t that far from one another, so visiting every weekend was an option. We saw each other through bad breakups, major accomplishments, and new beginnings. None of what we went through couldn’t stop life’s evolution from having her way. After we graduated for college, I decided to move back home to Atlanta to work for my father’s law firm and Mary chose to stay in New York. We continued to visit one another but as time went on our friendship changed. We had both moved forward and created new lives. When Mary had gotten engaged to her college boyfriend Nick she instantly called me and told me the big news. I was so excited for my sister! She had asked me to be her maid of honor and I quickly accepted the job. I was excited to be a part of another special moment in my sister’s life. I had planned to go to New York to help her pick out a wedding dress and I must have gotten the dates mixed up in my calendar. I received a call from her late one Friday night asking me what time my flight was getting in. Confused by the question I said “love, I’m not flying in until next weekend for the dress fitting”. She responded angrily “Tara, the dressing fitting is tomorrow!”. I quickly began to apologize and told her that I am going to do whatever it takes to get a flight out of Atlanta to be there for her fitting tomorrow. Her response was “do what you got to do” and hung up the phone. I spent all night trying to switch my flight. My next best option was to get a new plane ticket to New York but even that was no luck. When I called Mary back to deliver the bad news, she responded calmly “it’s okay, I’ll have Lisa send you pictures if I find anything”. I felt so horrible, I couldn’t believe I was missing such an important day in my sister’s life, especially since we never missed important moments. After that day our friendship had a stain on it. Since I was her maid of honor, it was my responsibility to plan the Bachelorette Party and I was planning a very festive weekend. Friday night I had planned a nice dinner at Mary’s favorite rooftop restaurant in New York. On Saturday we would spend the entire day at the spa , then that night we’d go out dancing at a nice club in the city. Closing out the weekend with a nice brunch at Mary’s condo. It was going to be festive weekend. I spent weeks planning and sending out invitations for me to arrived New York and not have some place to stay. The original plan was for me to stay at Mary’s condo in her guest room, but when I arrived, she had already offered the room to her friend Lisa. Lisa and Mary went to college together and became very close over the years. Lisa was always very nice. Sometimes all three of us would get together when I had the chance to visit New York. At the time she was living in Connecticut with her husband and didn’t want to commute back and forth that weekend, so Mary offered her guest room. To not cause any drama, I just booked a room at a hotel not too far from Mary’s condo building. That weekend we had a wonderful time. Mary was a little apprehensive towards me, but I figured she was still upset about me missing her dress fitting. So, that Sunday I arrived at Mary’s house a little early to set-up the table and to meet the private chef that was cooking the brunch. As I’m setting up Mary asked to speak with me for a moment. We stepped into her office, and she closed the door behind her. She had this nervous look on her face we took a sit on the couch and I asked “love, is everything okay?”. She quickly got up from the couch and started pacing back and forth. She said “T, I want to thank you so much for everything you did for me this weekend, it was amazing. I know you have a lot going on right now with work since your dad has been out sick and planning a wedding is very stressful. I need someone that’s able to commit fully to aiding me. So, I have decided that Lisa should be my maid of honor”. When she said that my heart dropped into my stomach. I was so hurt. She mentioned that Lisa lived closer and could be there to help her when she needs it. She went on to say it was hard for her to make the decision and that she appreciates me so much. I looked at her and said “I understand. you must do what’s best for you”. I got up from the couch, walked out the room, and finished setting up. At brunch all of the ladies were having a good time. I just sat with this pleasant look on my face and a horrible feeling on the inside. All I could tell myself was it’s her wedding and if that’s what she wanted to do, that I had to accept it. After the weekend was over, Mary and I really didn’t speak too often. We would text one another to check in, but other than that, we really didn’t have much to talk about. A month passed and Mary’s wedding had arrived. She looked beautiful in her dress. I stood behind Lisa with tears in my eyes watching my sister marry the love of her life. After the wedding, I went back to Atlanta and continued living my life. Our friendship was still tainted but we still stayed connected. Surprisingly things took a major turn when my father passed away the following year. I was really broken up about it. I called Mary multiple times that day and she didn’t answer. A couple of days later she texted me and said “I’m sorry to hear about your dad”. Not once did I get “call me and let me know if you need anything”. I was so hurt this was my best friend. I definitely deserved more than a text. After that day I didn’t reach out to her again. A few weeks later she and her family showed up at my father’s funeral. I sat in the front row with my eyes full of tears as I listened to people share the wonderful moments they had with my father. After the funeral, everyone was invited over to my parents house. I didn’t feel like talking, so I went into my father’s office and sat at his desk chair looking at old pictures. Mary knocks on the door and enters with a plate of food. She said “your mom asked me to come in and bring you a plate”. I said “thanks, just sit it there and I’ll get”. She sat the plate on the table and began to walk around the office. Softly she said “his office hasn’t changed one bit”. She noticed a picture of us when we won the talent show our freshman year. Out of excitement she said “oh my goodness! I haven’t seen this picture in years!”. She instantly grabbed it off the shelf and showed it to me. She spoke about how we practiced for hours on that dance routine, and how much of a hot miss outfits were. I sat ignoring her rambling on about the past. After moments of letting her jabber on, I stopped her and asked “Mary what do you want?!”. She took a deep breath and said “I’m coming to see if you’re okay”. I asked “now you want to know if I’m okay?”. She replied “what is that supposed to mean!?”. I said “my father died a three weeks ago and I haven’t heard a word from you!. I called you multiple times the day he died and you didn’t even answer, but you had the audacity to just send me text. A text?!”. Taken back by my outburst, She said “I thought that would be okay because that’s how we have been communicating for the past year and a half. All I could say was “wow Mary I suspected things had changed between us, but that statement just confirmed it”. Mary placed the picture on the desk and walked towards the door to leave. She stopped and said “T, when you’re ready to talk I’m here” and she walked away, closing the door behind her. I sat there as tears filled up my eyes. Mary and I didn’t speak or seen one another for a year. That following year I had gotten engaged to my high school boyfriend, Lance. my friends had thrown me an engagement party at this restaurant in downtown Atlanta. My fiancé made it his business to invite Mary and Nick. When they walked in, Mary and I instantly made eye contact and awkwardly smiled at one another. For a majority of that night, we avoided each other. Mary was standing at the bar ordering another drink and I decided to join her. I walked over to bar and stood beside her. I said “hey”. She smiled and said “hey, congratulations”. I said “thanks who would have thought me and Lance would ever get married” She said to me, “I always knew Lance was the one for you”.?I said “that’s right! I forgot Lance was always your favorite”. She laughed and said “he is! you two are perfect for one another”. I said “thanks”. We sat in silence for a moment. After a few second I said “look I’m sorry for the way I acted the last time we saw one another”. She said “please don’t, I should be apologizing. I should have been there for you,I just didn’t know how. Things between us had changed so much that I didn’t know how to be a part of your life”. I said “yeah, I felt the same way. It’s like our friendship lost its foundation. She said “I missed you so much friend!. Tears came to my eyes as I said “I missed you too friend!”. We hugged one another tightly. I said “let’s start over!”. She asked “okay, but what does that mean?”. I told her “let’s start by talking on the phone again and getting to know one another as the women we are today”. She screamed “I love it!”. That night we drank, laughed and danced like old times. Mary and I speak almost every day now. We had to grow apart to discover ourselves and now we are able to be true friends to one another. True friendship takes work on both sides. I am excited to grow old with my sister.



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  • Alexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

When I turned 25 it seemed like all the women in my family made it their business to help me find “a nice guy to settle down with” my aunt Lilian’s words not mine. For a majority of my life, the women in my family have been pushing their version of happily ever after on me. So when I met my husband Eric at 29, I hid him from my family for a whole year because I didn’t want them pressuring him to propose. They did that to my older sister Nancy and her husband Jack who have been separated for two years now because they don’t see eye to eye on life anymore. The pressure in their relationship started when Nancy brought Jack home for Thanksgiving during their first year of dating. When Jack arrived, my mother called over my aunts so they could meet Nancy’s new boyfriend, which in other words, meant a family interrogation.

My mother and my aunts were good, they could get the pope to tell them his deepest darkest secrets. Although I thought their tactic was a bit aggressive, it had it’s pros and cons. When Jack left the kitchen after speaking with my mother and aunts for two hours, he was shockingly very calm. The following year He and Nancy moved in together and within the first month Jack purposed. Nancy always wanted to have a relationship like our parents. They met each other at a party their junior year of college. My father said when he saw our mother, he had fallen in love instantly. He walked over and asked her to dance, she accepted, and they danced together the whole night. My mom said that my father made her feel like she was the most special girl at the party. From then on, they began dating and six months later He proposed. They married the summer after their senior of college. They bought a home in Savannah, Georgia where they have lived for the past 32 years.

After years of hearing my mother tell her love story, Nancy made it her business to do whatever it took to have a similar life. My father would always tell us “Your happily ever after is whatever you want it to be”. Unlike my sister, that message resonated with me more than the fairytale love stories my mother shared with us almost every night before bed. My sister didn’t’ allow herself to choose her own happily ever after. As much as I loved my mother and my aunts, I wasn’t going to allow the pressures of their perception of the who, what, when and where a women should be affect my life. I decided to do things on my own time. Eric and I dated for three years before he purposed, and we got marriage in a small ceremony in my parents’ backyard. My mother and aunts complained about almost everything, but I didn’t let it affect me because it was the type of wedding I wanted.

Eric and I live a very adventurous life, completely different from my parents. As wildlife photographers we get the opportunity to travel the world and capture Gods beautiful creatures in their element. Although it’s not a lifestyle that my mother feels is great for her child, it’s one we’re happy with. Whatever happens next is going to be the happily ever after I want.

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