Here it is, our love story in its entirety! All four previous installments and the final, how we found our way back together… As I do with every story, I’ve added a video in which I read it all to you, a bit like a podcast. And in this special video I’ve added extra photos, sound effects, Annie’s Song (my 2020 version) and beautiful, never before seen footage of our wedding day. So, a must see (in my humble opinion 😉 ).
Below the video you can read the blog (or read along with the video, whatever you like 😉 ).
Once upon a time, in the year 1984 of the previous century… there were a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen years old, the girl was sixteen. They were classmates at some secondary school in Lelystad, the Netherlands.
It was their final school year. The boy’s name was Maurice, the girl listened to ‘Tabitha’ (a name she really hated at the time), but I’ll keep referring to them as ‘he’ and ‘she’.
How it all started…
He first saw her when she was a few years younger. When she was fourteen he already spotted her, and really liked her (so he’s told me ? ).
But she didn’t really notice him. One day he caught her in the school library where she sat on the floor, reading. He didn’t think twice, he just took his chance and sat himself right beside her.
She on the other hand, didn’t even look up from her book, unimpressed by this youngster, all of a sudden sitting next to her (well, to be honest, she was way too shy to look up!! ?). He took off again, disappointed, but taking his loss like a man. A sixteen year old man ? .
After being ignored so cruelly, the young boy couldn’t help himself and he kept looking at her, although he thought he didn’t stand a chance with her. Which was true at that time.
But apparently ‘fate’ had other plans and managed to put them together in the same class, summer of 1984.
In the beginning that didn’t really help. Especially during the music classes, when he and a friend tried to annoy the teacher, he lost valuable ‘points’ with her. She loved the music classes, and he disturbed the lessons that she liked best. (Not good, Maurice, not good… uh-uh ??.)
In the meantime she became friends with a girl from another class. A girl, let’s call her ‘K’, that happened to be madly in love with… you guessed it, right? Because he had been a ‘pain in the buttocks’ during the music classes, she didn’t have ANY problem when K asked her if she’d be willing to ‘mediate’ and hand little written notes from K over to him.
After all they were classmates and they saw each other several times a day in the same class rooms. So that’s what she did. She became a messenger between K and the boy, delivering notes from one to the other and back. And K instructed her to report every small detail about him, which she did.
She watched him closely, in fact you could say that she became kind of his ‘shadow’. All to help her friend K, hoping to bring them together.
Little did she know that he was absolutely NOT interested in K, but all the more in herself! He was more than pleased that she came to him with those stupid (sorry, not sorry) notes from K, because that gave him a chance to talk to her. And after a couple of weeks, things started to change…
They started to talk about K and the notes that K wrote. They laughed about it, and he kinda let her know that he wasn’t interested in K. In subtle ways he tried to let her know that he was way more interested in her. And slowly the notes from and to K became notes between the two of them! (Much to the chagrin of K, as you can imagine.)
And the notes became letters. Long, very long, letters. They wrote each other during the night, sitting on their beds, thinking about each other, and writing about their days, their thoughts, the weather, their friends… pages long (one time she wrote 24 A4-size pages full in one night!), but never about how they really felt about each other.
There it was: infatuation
By that time it was already early 1985, and she had fallen for him. Deeply and thoroughly… She couldn’t help herself, she was soooo terribly in love with this young man. He was sweet, kind, funny and he had a way of teasing her without being rude or making fun of her at her expense.
And he was smart. He had knowledge of many things, and he could explain them to her in a way that she could understand and remember it. Things like how not to get seasick when you’re on a boat on the open sea, or how to know how far away a thunderstorm is by counting the time between a bolt of lightning and the thunder.
They just didn’t know they would soon find out that the thunderstorm was way closer than they could have ever imagined. It wasn’t just a thunderstorm, they were about to be hit by a devastating hurricane…
The young couple was sooo in love. Although they didn’t openly express it to each other, they sure did feel and know it. They were way too shy to tell their true feelings to one another, they were even too afraid to kiss or hold hands. Nothing of the sort happened.
They just loved to walk together and chitchat about anything, or go for a swim in the local swimming pool, together with her little sisters or one of his friends.
One time they did speak about the future… She spoke about the religion she grew up in, a cult like group (of course she didn’t look at it like that at the time!), which forbade people to be living together unmarried. She wanted to know how he felt about that. To her surprise he said that he would marry her if living together wasn’t an option.
She tried to push her luck a little more and asked if he would want to have children. And when he replied hesitantly that he was not really a children’s fan, but that he would want to have them with her, she was thrilled! They started fantasizing about having their own little family.
Gosh, they were so sweet, so in love and they saw nothing but summer and sunshine. Little did they know that their ‘summer of love’ was about to be disrupted by a horrible storm. Their figurative summerly sunset had, unbeknownst to them, begun.
Love versus bigotry and prejudice
As mentioned she grew up in a cult like religion. A religion that wants to determine what you think, who your friends are, how you raise your children, what you can and can’t do in the marital bed, they want to totally determine how you live your life. One hundred percent!
That was the life she knew. To her it was normal, to her it was her life. He respected that, he had no intention of trying to drag her out of her faith, he wanted to give her all the room she needed to follow whatever rules she felt she needed to follow. But that was not enough.
For the religion he had to become one of them, or else he would be just a ‘worldly person, ready to be destroyed in the great war of God Almighty, ‘Armageddon”. And that was exactly the way her parents looked at him. Unfit for their daughter, bad association. In their minds he was just going after their daughter for sex and nothing else.
She tried to tell them that he was not at all what they thought of him, but they didn’t want to listen. He was bad, she had to be protected from him. He needed to go and stay out of her life. Period.
By that time school had ended and she would start in a job at an office after the summer holiday. How convenient for her parents. They forbade her to ever see her boyfriend again. Her father called the boy for a ‘conversation’ at their home in the morning, which turned out to be a lecture. He told him to let go of their daughter and never contact her again.
Added to that, her father promised his daughter to break both her legs if she would go against his command. After the beatings she had already received from him, when her parents discovered her love for this ‘worldly’ young man, she really believed he would break her legs, or worse, if she wouldn’t obey him.
Her father ordered her to give back everything the boy gave her. He’d given her a few cassette tapes and his passport photo. She secretly kept one cassette, with half an hour of music mixed together that he had made especially for her. She also kept all of his letters. But with pain in her heart she gave him back the rest, plus his passport photo.
It was June 24th, 1985.
Sadly enough that afternoon there was a talent show at their school. And she had signed up to perform together with another guitar playing school friend. They would sing the ultimate love song, John Denver’s ‘Annie’s Song’, and she had planned to sing it for her boyfriend.
But when she went to school, she felt like there were stones in her heart, because when she left home her boyfriend was still sitting there being lectured by her father. She knew she had lost him. Forever.
With tears in her eyes and voice, she sang her part of Annie’s Song, wishing that things would have been different than the harsh reality that she suddenly found herself in. If only he could hear her… but she was certain that his heart was as broken as hers, and that he would never go to listen to her at that talent show.
Nevertheless, she still sang it for him. And she and her guitar playing school friend were the runner-up in the contest. Losing or winning that contest, it was all the same to her. She had just lost what she knew in her heart was the love of her life.
One last time
After a couple of days, that she mainly spent crying in her bedroom, one feeling kept coming back: she regretted giving his passport photo back! All she had left was the class photo of their year together in the same class, but his face wasn’t as clear as it was on that passport photo.
Then one day not long after, when she was alone walking past shops in the shopping center of their town, she saw him, walking towards her with some of his friends! She took a deep breath and didn’t think twice.
He looked at her and nodded ‘yes’.
“Can I please have it back?” she asked.
He put his hand into the inner pocket of his jacket to reach for it and pulled it out of there. Then he gave it to her. Their eyes showed love and hurt, intimately entwined. Then she remembered her father’s evil promise and she left. She was afraid that someone would see them standing together and that her father would get wind of it.
That was the last time they saw each other, the last time they looked each other in the eyes…
Against all odds
How can I just let you walk away, just let you leave without a trace. When I stand here taking every breath with you, ooh. You’re the only one who really knew me at all.
I wish I could just make you turn around, turn around and see me cry. There’s so much I need to say to you, so many reasons why. – So take a look at me now, well there’s just an empty space. And there’s nothing left here to remind me, just the memory of your face.
And you coming back to me is against the odds, and that’s what I’ve got to face…
(Phil Collins, Against all Odds – 1984)
These words, written and sung by Phil Collins, were the words that kept ringing in her ears after she’d lost the one person that genuinely respected her and saw and accepted her exactly as she is. She felt these words in every fiber of her body, in every breath, in every tear. But there was nothing she could do.
Breaking up with someone always causes heartache, but being forced to break up without either one wanting to, that’s torture.
Settling for another life
But she was only 16 and had a whole life ahead of her. So after a couple of weeks of deep mourning and a lot of tears, she found her positive self back again. She had to move on, so she did. She started working a full time job and made new friends in her religious group.
A year after all this happened she met someone that was ‘approved’, since he too was in the religion. Ten months after they’d met, they got married. She was not over her first love, but she felt that there was no use in longing for something that was gone, so she and her new husband did their best to make their marriage work. Obviously he knew everything, she had told him her whole tragic story on their first real date.
Not ready to let go
In the following years they had a child, bought a house, had another child, started their own business, but somewhere deep inside of her there still was this hole, and the remains of a love that once was, but wasn’t allowed… Thoughts of ‘what if’ showed up every now and then. And more than once, through the years, she reread the letters of the one she once loved so dearly. She had kept those letters like a treasure, because they held so many memories.
And when she read his words, she’d keep his passport photo in her hand, holding on to the memories and trying to keep them alive…
In her heart there always was this feeling of wanting to know what had become of him. Of course she thought of trying to find him, but her husband was very much against that, so she didn’t. Well… with the exception of one letter she wrote just before they were going to move to another province. She never received an answer… so she thought he was cross with her because of what had happened to them.
Goodbye to her old life
After a marriage of nearly 15 years, she finally found the nerve to leave her husband. Although their marriage wasn’t horrible, she just couldn’t be herself and she felt like a caged bird. She needed her freedom. So she took some drastic steps, and did not only leave her husband, but also their religion. Causing her to lose most of her friends and family, because everyone in the religion was forbidden to even say so much as ‘hello’ to her. She was excommunicated, or as they call it ‘disfellowshipped’, and shunned.
Even though it was terribly traumatic to experience being an outcast from one day to another, it did give her back the freedom she so long yearned for. No more controlling parents, no more controlling religion, no more husband telling her what to do or what not to do.
She started a relationship with someone she met through the internet, but it didn’t take her long to realize that he wasn’t ‘mr. right’ either. And like in her marriage, she felt that the trauma of losing her first love, was standing between her and any man she would try to have a relationship with.
That’s when she knew that there was only one thing she needed to do: go find her lost love. She wanted to know if he was happy and she needed to hear from him whether or not he blamed her for their forced breakup. After all it was her father, and she had accepted her father’s verdict. She needed to heal that old wound, she needed closure.
So she went online and typed in his name in Google…
Attic hatch and buried past revealed
Totally unexpected he received an email from someone he hadn’t thought of in years. “Do you remember me?” was the subject. Heck yes, sure he did remember her! He felt cold and warm simultaneously, and reading her email felt like being hit with an attic hatch on his head, followed by an enormous amount of memories and feelings that had been laying buried deep inside his mind under a thick layer of mental dust….
More than seventeen years had passed, but he instantly felt a spark from that old fire he had tried to extinguish all those years ago by burning everything he had from her. He emailed her back, and told her he was married and father of a little boy. And he asked her to write each other again, like they used to way back when.
He also assured her, he wasn’t mad at her. Not at all! Mad at her father, still, yes, but he didn’t blame her for what had happened.
She couldn’t be happier with his reply. Finally she had found him, she now knew he was doing well, settled and all. This was the closure she needed, now she could move on with her life!
But as always, things never go the way you think they should. As in this case.
Writing again after 17,5 years
As he had asked her to do, they started writing each other again. Per email this time. No more bicycle rides to his house this time, to deliver letters 😀 . One of the things she wanted to know from him, was how he felt that day when her father summoned him to her home. She wrote about the talent show and how she felt, singing ‘Annie’s Song’ with him in mind, knowing he wasn’t there to hear her.
He wrote back: “Oh but I was there! I was standing in the back, I made it in time to hear you sing… and I knew what you felt, ’cause I felt it too”. Even though it was years ago, she cried when she read those words. He had been there… her last cry of love for him, he had heard it…
After a couple of weeks of writing they agreed to meet each other on neutral territory, somewhere in the center of Arnhem (NL) where she worked at that time. He would pick her up, and they would go for a drink and see each other for the first time after so many years.
When he drove his car into the street, he didn’t know that she was behind the window observing him. Her heart was pounding, as was his. He parked the car, she opened the door. And there he was… She stood in the doorway and when he approached her, she spontaneously gave him three kisses on the cheeks. That’s a normal way of greeting (old) friends in the Netherlands (at least it was pre Corona).
He was a bit shocked by her assertive approach, not knowing that she was dying inside of nervousness! After that greeting, she grabbed her coat and bag, and off they went, to find a nice restaurant or cafe. They ended up in a kind of sandwich shop, where they were in fact just staring at each other. Later they laughed about it, because for people watching, it must have looked pretty weird. Two people just staring at each other, not saying a lot.
But they were flabbergasted and lost for words that they were sitting there, together! Against all odds…
It wasn’t all paradise…
When they walked back to the car after about an hour, he grabbed her hand and looked her in the eye and said something she would always cherish and remember: “If I’d known you’d come back, I would never have gotten married!” It made her heart cheer and cry at the same time… He loved her, but he was married. She never intended to start a fling with a married man! But this was so strong…
That little spark that was left of all those years ago, ignited a love they had lost and finally found back again. ‘They’, since they both felt it. He had buried all his memories of her, but in his heart he had never forgotten her. She had kept all the memories alive, she regularly even dreamed of meeting him again, but never could have dreamed that it would really happen. Not being together made them feel a kind of homesick, the longing for each other’s company was nearly unbearable.
But no matter how much love they felt for each other, they had to take things slow before they could even think of building a life together.
A child drew the short straw
In this story we won’t go into detail about all that happened after that, but let’s say things got pretty ugly. Their relationship cost him his relationship with his little son. Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the appropriate name for what happened. First there was nothing wrong, he had joint custody after the separation and later divorce of his now ex-wife. But after about a year and a half the ex-wife directed things in a way that he never got to see his son again.
He went to court, he wanted to see his boy grow up, be a part of his life. But even though the judge decided in his favor, she still frustrated everything, resulting in him losing contact with his son. Some people unfortunately just can’t deal with loss and turn to revenge and resentment, at the expense of their child.
Finally, after it being obvious that his son would never come to visit him again, he asked her to move in with him. It was June 2005. He had tried to protect his son from a sudden change in their daily life, so he kept his new relationship from the boy, for nearly 2,5 years. But there were no more reasons to not live together. So that’s what they did.
At the beginning, it wasn’t all roses. They both had a lifetime of experiences gathered in their rucksacks, so they had to adjust to each other. They had to unlearn old patterns that belonged to their previous lives with former partners, and create new patterns. Which sometimes caused a bit of ‘firework’ between them. But in the end, they grew closer together and their love only grew stronger and stronger, making them a team.
Then in March 2008 he finally popped the question (after not all too subtle hints and figurative kicks in the butt 😀 ) and they started planning their wedding day for November that same year. With horses and carriages, with a real wedding cake, a dinner with family and friends, and a true party at night. She had always wanted a wedding like that. All of it came true and more so. And above all, this time they married the loves of their lives…
Before the wedding they moved to a house in Germany (hence the German texts on the hearts in their front garden tree, which is in the video). But they got married in the Netherlands, in their former municipality. After the wedding they officially emigrated. To move even further away after a little less than five years, to Andalucía, Southern Spain. And there they built a new life, enjoying the Spanish sun and the stunning scenery!
Well, this brings us to the end of this love story.
Keep following TabbyMayArt.com, and you’ll definitely get to see more of how our life evolves, because this story may have ended, but our love and life together definitely hasn’t! And we still have a lot of plans for the coming years that, when realized, will surely make their way into stories for this website 😉 .
Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far. I hope you enjoyed our love story and the video that I’ve made in addition to it. New stories are already on their way! I’ve got some great things to share with you! Not in the least a video of my birthday, where my beloved husband overwhelmed me with some very unexpected surprises ❤️.
So stay tuned!
See you soon,