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He sat in the grass beside her, unable to look at her, left to imagine her reaction to his news.
It was their anniversary, and he brought a picnic to share with her.
Their old wicker basket, from their first date, with her famous plum tart.
They had done the same thing every year since they were 16.
He looked down at the gold band that had tied him to her for 40 years.
The ring was his most prized possession.
To some, a wedding band was a chain.
To him, it was proof that this beautiful woman had agreed to spend her life with him.
He loved her and he would always love her.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I met someone”
She had nothing she could say to him.
“I’ll end it if you want me to, but know that this doesn’t mean I’ll ever forget you. You are my one great love, and no one will ever take that away from us.”
He thought back to when they met, they were the definition of childhood sweethearts.
She was the girl next door, and he was invisible to her.
They had been introduced at every town event and block party.
He never admitted that he didn’t forget her name.
In truth, everything about her was etched into his mind and dreams.
His parents liked to say that it was puppy love, but he knew it was the real thing.
All he had to do was wait for her.
Everything changed when they were 13.
Her tiny obnoxious dog had made her way into his backyard, and he brought the dog back.
That was the first time she truly saw him, his golden hair, sun-kissed skin, and a big toothy grin.
She loved him then, but hers really was puppy love.
They started dating on their 16th birthdays, this was his proof that they were soul mates.
He took her for a picnic in the park.
They sat by the lake, laughing until the sun set over them.
They got married on their 20th birthday.
He was a bit forgetful, and he didn’t want to be one of those guys that forgot their anniversaries.
They got married in the same park, the setting sun cementing their bond to each other.
The day he came home to the news that they were pregnant, was the greatest day of his life.
A month later, when he woke up to her on the floor in a pool of her own blood was the worst.
“It’s too dangerous for you to try again” the doctor told them.
All they wanted was to be a family.
“She has a boy, did I tell you? I finally have the chance to be a dad”
Again nothing, though he knew she was crying.
“We met at work of course, you always said that it’s good we met when we did because no one exists for me outside of the hospital.”
He was trying to make her laugh, or at least smile, but he knew he was failing.
“I’m happy… I never thought I could be, but I am. I’m sorry, I really wasn’t trying to be”
He took off his ring and began to play with the idea that it was alive, and had recorded their life.
It had seen everything.
Every birthday and milestone.
Every good day and bad.
Every smile and every tear.
And it would make sure he never forgot anything, not even the littlest thing.
He always wore it because he knew the ring would always remember her.
He always polished it to make it look new, but maybe he didn’t want to anymore.
“I’m sorry” he said, “but I think it’s time”
He took his ring and placed it by her feet with their old wicker basket.
Both of these things had seen it all, and maybe it was time for them to stay with her.
He stood up, and turned to leave.
He took his final look at her grave.
“I’m sorry” he said “but I need to live now.”