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Tend To It

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He was walking across the university campus. The ancient buildings were the perfect backdrop on that fall day as I caught his smile and slight nod as we passed each other. It happened again the following day, and the next, each day to the point where we finally stopped and exchanged small talk, albeit more BS than anything. Yet that exchange turned into another and another and to make a long story shorter, we eventually ended up engaged, then married. I was 21 he was 23.
Three babies later, many ups and downs, six houses, more cars than we could count, several career changes, deaths of family members and 22 years of marriage... and he walks out.
Devastated doesn't come close. The idea of sharing more than half of my life with someone I thought was my soul mate only to be left holding all the lost memories and broken pieces was so much more than death itself.
Two suicide attempts later and I'm still standing.
I find myself mourning continually for the relationship that I thought we had, but probably was only an idea or at most a dream of being whisked away by my knight in shining armor. Devoted, loyal and oh-so-much in love, even after all the hurt and pain of being abandoned and tossed to the curb. Marriage was for life, happily ever after or not. It is an institution I believed in and through all of the ups and downs figured would continue through the years, even if it was just being tolerated. Happiness was an afterthought for both of us. Happiness was selfish. Happiness was not at the top of priorities. Staying together for the sake of being together was the goal.
Looking back I knew we wouldn't -couldn't- last. I knew that we were on borrowed time, neglecting the garden, allowing the weeds to take over and choke out what bit of life and love for each other we had left. The idea of family outweighed the idea of happily-ever-after. Paying bills took precedence over investing in one another. Relationships take care and consideration and so much more than love. Neither one of us made the other a priority, taking each other for granted and becoming complacent, only looking out for ourselves.
It's interesting to look back at all of the struggles that we were able to make it through, yet we fell apart at what was supposed to be the best times of our lives. We spent so much time trying to get to that point that we lost each other in the process.
So I continue to live in the 'what ifs' and 'if onlies', wishing that hindsight was kinder and more just. I rewind the last year of our marriage and wish I could have taken this path instead of that, said this instead of that, done this instead of that.
And the anger kicks in and consumes me, constantly commanding, 'How dare he?' and 'Who does he think he is?' Anger burns from the inside out then reluctantly gives way to hurt and hopelessness. The cyclical emotions torment me daily.
So I'm left picking up the pieces of my life, without my fairytale, and trying to put everything back together, except the pieces are from two separate puzzles and will never fit together like they once did.

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