It’s like we never said goodbye

February 14, 2016

St. Ambrose Church / Rochester, NY  / July 15, 1972

We were so young! I wasn’t yet 21, he was just 24, and there we were, walking down an aisle to a happy-ever-after life.  We were impossibly young; what did we know?  We didn’t know what we didn’t know, that’s what I say now.


My parents, Sam & Sandy, on the left; his parents, Betty and Phil on the right.

Our parents were thrilled; we were marrying within our culture. And really, for that reason alone, we seemed meant-to-be.  When we split after eight years, we had some confused parents on our hands.  Michael’s father had passed just two years after the wedding. But I know the three remaining parents were left reeling by our divorce.  My mother never got over it. Never. She couldn’t understand it and she couldn’t accept it. She wanted to know Why?  I had no explanation that suited her.

dance0001 copy The truth is, we were impossibly young and unprepared.


My only excuse for this photo is that there was an open bar at our reception.

We were just out of the 60s, a time of turmoil and upheaval. And peace, as you can see.  I’d been pretty sheltered as a kid and was completely unprepared to make important decisions. Who is, at 20 years of age?

After our divorce, we went off and had lives completely different from the one we envisioned for ourselves when we married. Actually, we never really had a vision for our life together–it just unfolded on its own, as often happened with young people of the day. Today, kids are planning decades ahead but back then? We just went along when opportunity presented itself. Fortunately, it presented itself often for us both, during our entire lives.


When people would ask me about my first marriage, I’d always say “That’s the one that should have worked.”  I can see our connection, above, and the love. It should have worked.  But shit happened.

It’s not that I’m unhappy at how the 27 years we were apart unfolded–to the contrary. I had several different lives within my life, lots of fun and cool experiences. And husbands. I had a bad marrying habit. (After all, I had to do something while I waited for him to come back.)But it was all good in the end, no harm, no foul.  And he had his life, too. All good.

So when he turned up 27 years later and said he wanted us to remarry, I was thrown for a loop. It was difficult to believe, because we hadn’t even seen each other in all that time. And so much water under the bridge, too. I believed I would eventually have my happy-ever-after but had never entertained the idea that it would be with my first husband. In fact, I was preparing to marry someone else.

Michael and I had many, many long phone conversations over months before we even saw one another again. We hashed over the last 40 years of both of our lives.  After the first month, I knew that regardless of what happened, I needed to break my engagement. And did.  We continued to talk for yet another month.


And then, he got off the plane and we walked out of the airport and to the first dinner we’d had together in 27 years, the first time we’d seen one another in all that time. By the end of that dinner it really was like we never said goodbye.  It turns out, my happy-ever-after was always right in front of me. But now, I was smart enough to appreciate it.

Michael is…he’s everything, really. He’s loving, he’s sweet, he’s super-smart. He loves my dog and my nephews.  My friends adore him. He’s a great companion.  He loves to travel as much as I do.  He’s well-read and charming.  He’s still pretty hot, too.   For those of you who don’t know him, I’ll let my late friend, Marilyn tell a story she used to enjoy telling:

Carol and Michael were in California to find a house, so I invited them to dinner.  After I did, I was a little sorry. “He’s probably some boring lawyer,” I thought, “I’ll have to sit through an entire evening…”  The doorbell rang, I opened the door, he put out his arms and hugged me, and that was it. I loved him immediately and knew he was the one for her.”

That was how it happened for me, too.  He got off the plane and that was the end of any questions I might have had. He was the one and this was my happy-ever-after.  And in the seven years since we reunited, I’ve only gotten more sure. He was my first and is my last husband. How cool is that?

My valentine to Michael is personal. But I do have something for him here: Thanks, Crystal Gayle, for this public valentine, which I send with love to my wonderful first and last husband:

27 comments on “It’s like we never said goodbye
  1. Rena says:

    That is such a beautiful story. I am so happy that you found each other again. And that you didn’t marry another wrong one! Haha!

  2. Wow, great story! Happy Valentine’s Day! ♥

  3. Amazing story, Carol. I’m glad you found – and refound! – true love. Happy Valentines’s Day!

  4. Wow. Double wow. I love the way you interspersed your amazing story with photos from your first wedding. You and I are of the same “Love the One You’re With” generation and, although I didn’t marry all of them, I’m sure I had as many “transitions” as you did. Thanks to the Internet, I contacted Bob my first love (at 19) when I was in my early 50s. Unlike you, we never met in person again. I’d like to think if we had, we could’ve picked up where we left off just like you.

  5. I love this. It should have been published in “Feisty after 45” but your other piece is just as good. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  6. Lisa Froman says:

    Soooooo sweet. Really, it makes me tear up. I am such a cornball because I love happy endings; I am glad you got yours!

  7. I have read parts of your story before, Carol but I still got goosebumps reading this! So happy that you both allowed love to help you find your way back to each other.

  8. Adrian R says:

    Really beautiful story with a wonderfully happy ending.

  9. Lata Sunil says:

    So sweet. Good you found each other again.

  10. Donna says:

    Of all the love stories in all the world, yours is the best. I am so happy to know you, so happy this is happening…

  11. janet Downing says:

    Beautiful. I was there for the second time around and I couldn’t be happier for you and Michael. Life is short and it looks like you are living it to the fullest.

  12. ajay says:

    Wow! Simply amazing. It is so true that love survives. I had goosebumps. bUt what was that, made him come back to you?
    Magical.. Were you guys in touch in between?

  13. Stacey Schmitt Minardo says:

    Very sweet story, Carol. I wish you and Michael much continued happiness. The pictures of the church brought back many memories as I was married there several months after you. Much has changed on the interior. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  14. One of the best Valentine’s Day stories I’ve ever read. Love conquers all.

  15. andrea says:

    i don’t think one ever forgets their first love – no matter how the marriage turns out

  16. Eli says:

    Lovely story… made me think: yes, life is strange isn’t it… Funny how things work out some times, and sometimes not. And that’s ok too. Happy Valentines:-)

  17. Bismah says:

    This is a really amazing story! I love reading about happy endings in relationships. Sometimes it is meant to be and sometimes not. In the end its what makes you happy.

  18. Bellybytes says:

    Unbelievable story but really happy that you recognised your true love at last. May you continue to be blessed .

  19. Parul says:

    Wow! I absolutely loved your story and I am so glad I had a chance to read this. Thank you for sharing this with us. Life is beautiful and whatever happens, happens for a reason. The time you both got away from each other, helped you evolve into the people you are today but still know who you loved. It’s beautiful.
    I have shared this with many but I once read this – Life is like moving between a set of rooms. Every time you meet some one, you either move to the next room with this person or leave him/her in the previous room. With you; you left Michael in one room and after 27 years, you again found him in another room of your life. This time to walk along with him to the next room or next phase of life. Hugs!

  20. Carol, such a beautiful story. How often does this happen? Remarrying the same guy after 27 years! I’m still trying to digest you meeting this person and falling in love all over again!

  21. Sofia B says:

    Such a beautiful story. I guess it is true what they say: If you love something let it go, if it comes back, it is yours forever 🙂

  22. Liv says:

    What a lovely story – and great pics (I was not disappointed). They’re reminiscent of my own parent’s photos – they were married the same year.

  23. Christina says:

    I absolutely LOVE everything about this!

  24. Kerry says:

    First and last husband.
    Wow. What a story you’ve lived, the two of you. All the best for your future going forward together again after so much time passing.

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