I don't often refer to the fact that I was married before. One reason is my respect for Gregg and our marriage, which is the great love of my life. Another reason is courtesy to the parties who were involved in my past, and yet another reason is the knowledge that those things are in the past, and are best left there. However, as I was going through my old photos in search of good ones to submit to the slideshow for Bob's memorial service, I found some pictures of my first wedding. They brought back a memory that I had forgotten until I came across the photos of the wedding party at the church in 1982.
When I was about 10 years old, I met the son of my mother's friend for the first time - at least, that is my first memory of him. He was a delightful young boy - just a couple of years older than I. It was as if lightning struck me - what the French call "coup de foudre" - and that was it, for me. I wanted him, and him alone. For years, he was the ultimate young man in my eyes, in both his looks and his personality.
Although he was always courteous, he didn't have the time of day for me - he thought of me like a sister or a cousin, I'm sure. I was his sister's friend. We saw each other every Sunday for years, had brunch every week after church, took vacations together with our families, spent holidays like Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve together...and still, he took no notice of me - he remained unaware of my attraction to him. In the olden days, perhaps our parents would have arranged a marriage for us; I know that his mother loved me, and I loved her, too - she was like my second mother. I would never have made a move toward him, though - I wasn't raised that way. It had to come from him, and it never did.
In high school, I had your garden-variety, age-appropriate romances. I went to college in California for two years, and then to Illinois for my junior and senior years. I fell in love with someone there, got engaged, and then broke the engagement - it turned out that my fiance was not faithful. This experience had a devastating effect on me; I had never been involved with a liar before, and it shook my world to its foundation.
Heartbroken, I graduated from college, moved to Boston, got a job, and met a man at work who became a good friend. He eventually asked me to marry him; I accepted his proposal. Was I in love? In retrospect, no - but I thought I was doing the right thing, at the time (to explain my convoluted logic about the situation would make uninteresting reading for you, so you will have to trust me when I say that my intentions were good).
About 6 weeks before the wedding, when all of the invitations had been sent, dress and flowers ordered, reception site reserved and menu selected, showers given and gifts arriving, honeymoon planned and joyfully anticipated, I experienced what is known as "cold feet" - a strong premonition that this was not the right thing for us. There were various signs that we were not well-suited, and I could not ignore them any more. I tried to break it off, but my fiance soothed my worries away - he wanted to go through with the marriage. I allowed myself to be talked out of my concerns.
It wasn't that this man would ever love me...it was the fact that I could be so upset, just by seeing him walk in the door of the church, as I was about to promise my heart and my future to someone who shouldn't have had either one.
He went into the church and sat down, and my father and I started our walk down the aisle together shortly after that.
The honeymoon was disastrous; in fact, the entire marriage was a disaster. In my naivete, I had not understood a vitally important thing: although this man loved me, he did not love me in the ways that mattered to me. Three years of difficult, humiliating disagreements and misunderstandings followed. Separation, reconciliation, counseling (for me - he refused to go on his own, or with me, saying, "I'm happy; you go get help"), and then, finally, the day came when I knew - I KNEW - that I could never have a family with this man - could never, ever be happy or at peace with him. I left, for good.
As Elizabeth says, You just can't make that sh*t up.
This is why I am so, so, so thankful for my relationship with Gregg, for our children, and for the fact that we share the gift of a full, happy, loving, passionate marriage. I do not take it for granted.