My Husband Vanished Weeks after Our Wedding — 17 years Later I Meet Him at Church

Richard, my husband, has been the love of my life—he is loving, caring, dependable, and responsible.

We dated for two beautiful years before marrying at the age of 26. Our trip felt like a fairy tale as we methodically planned our future, complete with fantasies of having children and owning our own home.

Then, abruptly, he disappeared.

Richard vanished like a mirage, leaving no trace behind. As an orphan with no family ties, his sudden absence surprised not just me but also his friends. Concerned that something dreadful had happened to him, I contacted the police. Unfortunately, their studies produced no findings.

Years have passed, defined by a persistent wait for the day he would knock on our door and return home.

Despite being surrounded by other men, their curiosity evident, I couldn’t force myself to ignore Richie. My friends encouraged me to try new things, and Jake, a great buddy, was a continuous source of encouragement. I knew he cared about me, and I felt the same way.

However, guilt crept in whenever I considered moving on. I was uninterested in other men and instead focused on developing a good engineering career.

A recent work trip took me to another part of the country, where I attended meetings, went shopping, and took an early Monday morning flight. On Sunday, eager for peace, I attended a local church service, a rite that reminded me of my daily routine back home. As the ceremony ended, I made my way to the exit, only to have my heart sink at the sound of a familiar voice.

I felt crazy. I glanced around and noticed a towering man. I recognized it. I recognized the laugh. He turned around and his eyes widened, like if he had seen a ghost. Same goes for me. That was him. No doubts. My breath caught in my chest.

“Honey, are you okay? Are we coming?” inquired the woman beside him.

He swallowed hard. “Yeah, you go. I just wanted to say hi to Mr. Jenkins.” Okay, waiting for you in the car,” she responded before leaving.

Richard approached me, his grip on my shoulders firm as he whispered, “Not here. See me in an hour at Tom’s Cafe, River Street, 6.”

With those mysterious comments, he departed. In a stupor, I arrived at the stated café. He arrived in an hour and began to babble.

“I understand you want an explanation. I definitely owe it to you.”

And he began his story, making me feel increasingly nauseated. Before me, he had a high school sweetheart who was the love of his life. After seven years together, she abruptly dissolved the relationship. Richard, broken but resilient, persevered and finally crossed paths with me. Our marriage seemed ideal until she resurfaced, expressing her love and asking for forgiveness. At that point, he recognized his heart still belonged to her.

The realization hit me like a tidal wave, erasing the years I had spent faithfully waiting. It was a pathetic story, and I grew angry at both him and myself.”You know that I didn’t remarry and waited for you all these years?” I gulped on the words, full of incredulity and wrath.

His eyes rolled, reflecting the moment we met at church.

What?? No, you couldn’t. “I did.”

The anguish in my chest threatened to suffocate me. I walked out to gather my breath, with Richard following and squatting alongside me.

“I’m sorry, Anna.”

But I walked away, just as he had, without uttering a word. In the weeks to come, I would still find forgiveness for Richard and call Jake, inviting him to finally go out. Yet, in that very moment, I swore never to live for a man or anyone else but myself.

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