Ghosts of Mays Past

On the 20th of May fourteen years ago, she got married to the wrong man. The very minute she had given the promise to marry him, she somehow felt that this wasn’t going to last. She used to think though that getting married is the logical next step when having a child with someone – and yes, there was no need to tell her that most people consider it’s supposed to be the other way round. A little more than five years later she finally had the nerves, the inner independence and the money to take the kids and leave her husband. The time to come turned out to be the best of her life so far.

Finally free

Finally she was free of all anxiety and lack of self-confidence that had dominated her until the age of 40. During the months following the break-up the only thing she really missed was her wedding ring. In the attempt to convince herself that getting married is a good idea, she had chosen rather big, golden rings with a sparkling diamond right in the middle of them. It was beautiful and it was the only piece of jewelry she really liked in spite of all the unhappiness of her marriage. She would’ve loved it to stay it where it was, but keeping a wedding band on her right hand after having left her husband did not feel quite right. The ring disappeared in a drawer and from then on it was as far away as the memory of the reason why she originally had it.

The next year

May 20th of the year that followed the separation was a warm and sunny day. She had just left for work when she received several text-messages from her ex-husband who reminded her of their wedding day six years ago. Her anger about these texts did not last long. She passed by a musician who once in a while played on the street; she just loved his songs that always sounded a bit sad. The music mixed with the sun and once again she thought how much better off she was without a husband (and without anyone who might have taken his place). Maybe, she mused, maybe this marriage was one of the many detours that had determined her life so far; it seemed like she needed them and it seemed like she needed the sadness that came with them in order to be happy when having reached her temporary final destination.


She listened to the musician for a little while and then, abandoning herself to an impulse, she turned around and headed back home. She took her wedding ring out of the drawer, stuffed it in the pocket of her jeans and went out again, hoping that the musician, whose stage was the street, would still be there. He was and so she dropped the ring together with a couple of coins in the box that he had placed before him. She had almost reached the train-station when she heard someone yelling from behind: “Lady! Excuse me, Lady!”. She turned around and saw the musician waving at her. “Lady! You lost your ring in my box!”. His German had a strong accent of some kind that she could not assign to any familiar language. “No”, she said, smiling. “It’s yours. Keep it or give it away, whatever you like”. He stared at her, puzzled, turning the ring with the diamond in his hand. “It is”, she said. “Seriously”. She turned around and continued her way feeling that this was the best thing to do with the once beloved ring.

 Four years later

In year four after the break-up she was in love again, although she had assumed that this would never happen again. She used to think that no man would be ready to fall in love with the strong-willed, independent woman that she was. Much to her surprise it looked like she was mistaken. On the night of May 19th they were going to have their third date and even though it was only their third date, they knew that this wasn’t the cool and distant affair which they both had imagined in the beginning. As every year, her ex-husband kept writing her texts, reminding her of their wedding day. Only that this time he had gotten mixed up with the date and send them a day too early. A couple of hours before she was going to meet the man who was to become her long-term lover and companion, her phone rang and she recognized a number which she had hoped she would never see again. It belonged to a man with whom she had worked together closely for a while. Their business relationship ended abruptly when she realized that his company was insolvent and that he tried to cheat on her in order to save what could not be saved. She had heard rumors saying that he was very sick but still she was shocked hearing him say: “I was diagnosed with cancer and they say I’m going to die within three to six months. I do not want to die without saying I’m sorry for everything I did to you”.

There is nothing left to say

After a few more sentences she hung up, her hands shaking – was there anything you could you respond to such a message that would make any sense? There wasn’t. Why is that, she asked an imaginary dialog partner. Why does always luck and happiness come with such news? It is, as if there can be no sunshine without the shade, isn’t it? In case we want to bother a battered comparison that is, but right now I cannot think of a better one. The shade of this news hung over her date which nevertheless left her cheerful and content. Her former business partner died only five weeks later. Maybe she thought, maybe love reminds us just like death that time just doesn’t go by. Time tells us to make the best of it, again and again everyday.IMGP2708

May 2oth

The following years, she appreciated the fact that nothing extraordinary happened on May 20th . She went to her office, she saw clients, she cooked dinner for the kids. Which was good, since anything else would have probably scared her. She was glad that somehow over the years she seemed to have reached a state of mind that enabled her to have what she called mediocrity in her feelings and she didn’t want this mediocrity disturbed by news that would endanger it, be them positive or negative.


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