One of the saddest things about a relationship ending is losing the shared memories. Well, not losing them, but having them fade.
The memories stay alive when you laugh or cry or fondly reminisce together over them.
I dated my first boyfriend for six years, then he was gone. How could someone I’d seen almost every day for six years be suddenly erased from my world?
It was like a death.
I remember very little about our time together.
A little over a year later, I met my husband. We spent 23 years creating shared memories, then he was gone.
And it was like a death.
Except he wasn’t erased from my world because we have two children together.
We did so much together during those 23 years. He proposed in Paris, we walked the Pilgrim Trail in Spain, we got married on Broadway (Sydney), honeymooned in the Seychelles, lived in Singapore for two years, had two beautiful children, lived in New York.
It sounds like such a charmed life, but it ended in the most unromantic way imaginable.
Recently, married friends asked us – separately – for our recommendations on somewhere to visit in the south of France. I told the wife St Emilion. My ex suggested the same little town to the husband.
It was a little freaky that our recollections were so in sync.
St Emilion remains such a golden place in my mind – we must have been happy when we stayed there.
Yesterday, my ex-husband texted me to ask the name of a Cathar ruin we visited in France, many years after that lovely visit to St Emilion. He wanted to recommend it to a friend. He recalled an awesome ruined castle, but I was reminded of our crumbling relationship.
It was raining when we visited the ruin. I refused to get out of the car for the miserable climb, so he took the kids up the rocky hillside. I should have gone too, but I just couldn’t be bothered.
A few nights later, we went to dinner at a fancy restaurant while a friend babysitted the kids. It was the most empty of meals, strained and distant. The memories of that French sojourn aren’t so golden for me. He was angry, I was resentful.
We have a Frankenstein-ish relationship now: stitched together camaraderie for the sake of the kids, but so much hurt and anger buried deep down.
He and his girlfriend are moving in together soon and a new family will form. Things will become more difficult and uncomfortable. We will be strangers who co-parent when necessary.
What we were is gone.
The man who wept in fear and exhaustion and love as our first child was born isn’t the man who knocks on my front door each Sunday morning to take that child from me.
I can’t reconcile him with the person I once loved. That man would never have hurt me the way this one did.
How can they be the same person?
But they are.
I am making new memories now.
I carefully document them in photographs.
I love experiencing and capturing the beauty around me. My heart swells with each camera click.
There’s so much living to do, so many amazing things to see.
A little rain on a rocky hillside wouldn’t stop me discovering them.
Losing my marriage was awful, but rediscovering myself has been wonderful.
Here are some moments from today (which wasn’t terribly magical, but still had moments that filled my heart with joy).
How was yours?
Song of the day: Bee Gees “Stayin Alive”