The End of Forever

The people in this picture had a special, epic love. Regardless of what anyone else ever says or thinks, you can see it in their faces. They believed in forever. They believed in each other. They believed in their ability to find their way in the world, together. They stood on top of a mountain in Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia, in front of their friends and family and a judge. They took vows and made promises. To love, honor and cherish. In sickness and health. For richer or poorer. They also made some declarations and promises that were more personal to them. She told him: “only you could coax such a fragile flower to bloom”.

And he did. He loved her and she loved him and they grew up together. They had victories and defeats, they fought and made up, they loved each other more than they could stand, and sometimes they couldn’t stand each other. They made countless wonderful memories together, memories one can’t help but cherish for a lifetime. There are bad memories too, and some of those are as truly awful as the best memories are wonderful. For the longest time, it was them against the world.

It would be too simple to say that the world won. There certainly is a lot of truth to it, but it was more than that. They were very different people, and that was a good thing and a bad thing. It was wonderful when they brought each other balance, came to one another in kindness and love, and showed the best side of their differences to one another. It was horrible when they pulled and pushed against each other, instead of together. When they let their differences become flaws, resented instead of appreciated. When one extreme drives another until they were further apart then they’d ever been.

That being further apart created space between them. Space that they filled with anything and everything, until they were eying each other suspiciously over a minefield wasteland of people, things, activities, decisions, problems, and disagreements. All the things that they put in that space, not out of spite, not out of a lack of love or respect, but out of a gnawing desperation. Having had love at its best, they simply could not endure the pain of having that love at its worst.

Neither one of them liked the look on the other person’s face. So they heightened the pile of things between them, until they couldn’t even really see each other anymore. They were, instead, staring all the time at their wall of things, maybe peeking through a crack if they were feeling brave but consumed by what had come between them. Because they were tired. Because they were scared. Because it hurt too much.

Living behind those walls, something changed, and that something that changed? Changed everything.

As much as they might have liked to pretend that nothing was different, that nothing was wrong, that everything would be okay, no matter what, they couldn’t. As much as they were tempted to hold on just a little longer, just to make sure, just to know in their hearts that they didn’t give up too early, they couldn’t. They just couldn’t.

So she set them both free. She slid her ring off her finger and placed it tenderly in the jewelry box he made for her so long ago. They talked, quietly, and honestly for the first time in so very long. On the screen porch he built for her, not too long after he carried her over the threshold of their first home. And so a love that began with a passion and intensity such that it could hardly be contained ended with a near-whisper in the dark of night.

The woman in the picture will be fine. She is strong. She can and will take care of herself. She’ll pursue her goals, her hopes, her dreams. She will try to be the best person she can. She’ll cherish her friends and family and the life that she’s built for herself. She’ll search for peace and wisdom and security, and because she’s so determined, she will find all of those things. Maybe someday she’ll find someone else to love, to love her, and she’ll know again what true love looks like.

The guy in the picture will be fine too. He’ll build a life for himself, one that he can cherish and enjoy and protect. A life worth defending. He will be happy and relieved to have the freedom to follow his heart’s calling; chasing a daisy in a far flung meadow. They both know that he will always remember to his dying breath, whether he wants to or not, the captivating scent of an orchid in full bloom.

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38 Responses

  1. *clutches heart*

    Oh, lady.

  2. I wish I had something to say that could really express what I am thinking…but even I am not sure how to sort it. I love your honesty. I love how this isn’t a situation where one is blaming the other. But I am sad that it’s ending. I wish you and him the best and happiness that you both deserve.

  3. You are a much stronger and bigger person than I. I wish you the best here and I admire your ability to not point fingers and blame, to instead focus on the beauty of the love as it once was.

  4. Oh, Cat….

    • I know, lady. I know. I loves you.

      • I love you, too….I’m here for you, every day, and every night..whenever you need me…

      • I know you are, and we’ll talk soon, and whatever I need, I will let you know. Thanks for calling last night- I was asleep- but your voicemail made me smile this morning. ~hugs~

  5. I’m so sorry. You brought tears to my eyes. All the best to your future.

    • Good, I don’t want to be the only person crying today. Thanks for your kind words, and for the link.

  6. woah.

    i honestly didn’t think it would come to this. our hearts break with yours. if you cut yourself on the shards of a broken heart, please know we’ve got stockpiles of bandages.

    • I didn’t think it would, either, but sadly, it did. Thank you, nico, for always being there for me. ❤

  7. I read this this morning and didn’t comment right away because, to be perfectly honest, I can’t type that well whilst sobbing.

    You are handling this with dignity and grace. It kills me that all I have are words that seem very hollow when I dearly wish I could swoop in and say all the right things and make sure the next chapter of your life begins with smiles. (And feed you delicious cupcakes that you’d curse me for while on the StairMaster the next morning.

    Whatever comes next, please know I’ll be here if you need me. I sincerely want the book of your life to have the happiest of happily ever afters.

    • thank you. i know that you wish you were closer, but waking up to sweet facebook messages and just knowing that you’re in my corner helps so much. your friendship is precious to me, geographically close or not. ~hugs~

  8. I love your honesty, brave and beautiful writing that has made my heart ache today. I wish both of you all the best.

  9. Oh, darling… I’m thinking of you and wishing you all the best. I know you’re strong and I know you’ll be fine, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you need someone!

  10. you are so beautiful and strong and just plain old wonderful.

    but… i have a feeling you knew that already.

    love, darling. love.

  11. All that I can say, the only words that come to mind, are I’m sorry to hear about this. I wish the both of you nothing but the best wherever the road leads you from here.

    Remember, my wife and I are here for you if you need a friend to talk to.

  12. I am shocked, sad, and proud of you for being courageous and honest.

    Sending you good and peaceful thoughts.

  13. delurking to say: a beautiful, generously written post, which moved me to tears. I just so wish it wasn’t about something so painful and life-changing. Wishing you both all the best as you make your new lives.

  14. Delurking to say how sorry I am, and how beautifully written and mature this enrty was. I wish you all the best with whatever comes next, both of you.

  15. No words. Just love for you.

  16. I’m so sorry . . . i haven’t been here in a bit and as I was reading I was hoping against hope you weren’t writing about yourself until finally I was holding my breath as I read and I knew . . I knew because I would have written the same way if I had the talent, and I let my breath out in a rush and a sadness filled the space.

    I feel very privileged to have read such a powerful entry . . please cat, remember it is but a chapter in a wonderfully long life . . . .

  17. I’ve been away from a computer since last Thursday morning, so I’m just now seeing this, and…wow. Just wow. I can’t imagine. I can’t even formulate full thoughts. Just know that I’m so sorry to read this…and I’m so honored to have read such a beautiful post. It must have taken a lot of strength to write it.

  18. Oh sweetness, just seeing this now while trying to catch up after holidays. There are no words, you are so brave and strong and well just hugs

    L x

  19. So I finally found this.
    God, my heart is breaking for you honey. Hang in there and know that I’m thinking about you.
    I know I’m late, but wow, you really are stronger than you think.

    You’re not late. I really needed to hear that today. ❤

  20. You made one of the hardest decisions anybody could ever make, and you did it with grace, beauty and wisdom. I am very sorry for the pain that is no doubt weighing heavy in your heart. I can only hope that time and new love will lift it from you. You’re a very brave woman.

    Thank you darling. When someone like you says something like that about someone like me? It gives me the warm fuzzies.

  21. How did I miss this? I’ve been so self-absorbed lately that I missed this epic change in your life. It wasn’t until I read today’s post that I realized something was going on.

    Despite the infinite melancholy that lies behind this post, it was truly beautiful and almost made me cry.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this, but you’re right–you will be fine.

  22. Oh, honey, I went through this same situation (obviously different details, but the divorce) about 5 years ago (wrote about it here: http://justatitch.com/2009/06/15/the-one-where-i-drop-a-bomb/) and some other places if you want to read along.

    I know we don’t know one another, but I am here if you need to talk or email—there are more of us out here than you’d realize. I’m also living proof that there is always a happy ending. I wish you peace, love and the healing that you’ll need. Take good care.

  23. You are an incredible woman. I’m so glad we reconnected and I look forward to seeing what amazing things you will do from this point on.
    This was a beautiful testament to your life together.

    I guess we need to set up some kind of mutual admiration society, because I’m just pleased as punch to have reconnected, and I happen to think you’re pretty incredible, yourself.

  24. I’m so sorry I am just now getting caught up and reading this news. While I know you are incredibly strong, I also know you must be hurting inside. It’s ok to cry, to let it out to feel, really feel all of it. Don’t try to stay strong for everyone else, stay strong for you when you feel like it. IF all else fails, you bloggie friends are always there for you. HUGS

    Thanks, love. It’s not always been easy, but I have more peace than I’ve had in quite some time, and it’s hard to hold on to sadness when there is so much love within my grasp. ❤

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