Lessons in love from life’s regrets
work, during the lunch break or as they get home from work. Draw hearts in naughty places. Read each other love poems or play your song and dance in the kitchen. Just do something special. Don’t turn into the cynic you think you’ve become.
I recently had dinner with my first ex-husband. I had not seen him in over 18 years. Time has marched on. We both remarried, had children and rebuilt our lives and yet there we were 24 years later, bound by what we shared when we were young, romantic and stupid!
He looked wonderful. Slim, fit and happy. I thought it was a bit selfish of him to have survived so well. He could at least have been fat, bald and wrinkled. He has a successful career and turned out to be a wonderful father. I am happy for him.
This is my Valentine love letter to him, wherever he finds himself on the 14th.
Thank you for being an important part of my life; for bearing witness to my early career as an attorney; for reminding me that I was good at what I did. You were the person who introduced me to travel. With you I saw four continents and discovered a world beyond the small town I grew up in.
Your adventurous spirit and physical strength took us to the Comrades and Two Oceans several times. Your love for Africa let us explore the bush and I saw wildlife that could have made movies. Through you I learnt about the Zulu Wars and discovered parts of KZN that we only ever read about in history books. I learnt about domes and shale and listened to the whispers of the Earth’s promise.
You knew how to buy the perfect gift. I have learnt that this skill is rare.
You loved me. I know you loved me. I just didn’t know how much. I was young, stupid and too broken to understand.
When I said I wouldn’t have stayed, I meant that I was too needy and selfish. I couldn’t have stayed no matter how much harder you tried to love me. I know that now. For the wreckage I left in our wake I am deeply sorry.
You were my friend before you became my husband and I don’t think you will ever know how profound both those roles shaped the woman I have become.
Because of the mistakes I made while married to you I changed how I related to subsequent partners. I know it made me better and kinder. I never thought I would marry until you asked. Thank you for being brave enough to marry me.
I know that it is over 24 years too late but thank you for loving me. I am unequivocally sorry for being everything you didn’t deserve. I loved you as best I could and I know it was not enough.
I didn’t tell you but I still have the painting you bought me. It still has its bright yellow frame. I see it almost every day. It reminds me that we had very sunny and happy days before I broke us. Thank you for the lessons and the friendship.
I hope that you are loved and will continue to be loved beyond your hopes and desires. Continue to be a Mamil (middle-aged man in lycra!), it really suits you. Happy Valentine’s Day. email@example.com