A heartbroken widow is stunned when a familiar figure takes the microphone at her only daughter's wedding and calls her name.
Deborah Henly's heart skipped a beat when she saw the tall slender man walk across the stage and take the microphone from the wedding singer's hand. It was impossible, it couldn't be.
The love of her life was dead and gone, and this man who now smiled a cheerful hello into the microphone was a hallucination, a fever dream brought about by the excitement of the wedding. It had to be.
Deborah's life was transformed on her daughter's wedding day | Source: Shutterstock.com
Deborah's lips formed one word: "Mark!" But Mark was dead, dead for twenty years, and she had spent nearly twenty years by the side of a man she didn't love and respect even though he was her daughter's father.
Deborah had married straight out of high school, married her high school sweetheart, the father of her unborn baby. Back then, Frank had been sweet and funny, and of course, he drank too much -- the whole football team did.
It had seemed normal, something all the boys did before they settled down, but Frank hadn't settled down. An injury had ended his college football career, and after that, he had started drinking even more.
Deborah and Frank started dating in high school | Source: Unsplash
He'd found a job at a local car dealership, but he would get to work late and hungover, and after a while, his boss fired him. It had been Deborah who'd supported their little family, working as a waitress at the town's grill.
By the time their daughter Sienna was three, Deborah knew that the marriage was a mistake, that Frank was an alcoholic, and she would have to find a way to support herself and her daughter on her own.
No one can keep true lovers apart.
Leaving Frank would mean leaving her hometown, moving somewhere where she didn't know anyone, and that wouldn't be easy with a toddler, so Deborah asked her mother for help.
Deborah married because she was pregnant | Source: Pexels
"Mom, I want to go to New York, find a job and an apartment," she explained, "Then I can come to fetch Sienna, but I need you to help me, to take care of her..."
Deborah's mom had never liked Frank, and she felt that her daughter's best chance of happiness was far away from him, so she agreed, and a week later, Deborah was on her way to the Big Apple.
Deborah was only one of many thousands of hopeful dreamers who arrive in New York City looking for a bright future, so finding a job wasn't easy. All that Deborah found was a position as a maid in one of the city's luxury hotels.
Deborah's husband Frank was an alcoholic | Source: Unsplash
It was there that she had first crossed paths with Mark Duchamp, the dashing millionaire little brother of the owner of the hotel chain. The funny thing was that he had noticed Deborah, a humble maid, and had fallen in love with her.
It had been the beginning of a magical time in Deborah's life. Mark had treated her like a princess. He took her out to dinner and dancing on the New York rooftops, and he asked her to marry him. Deborah explained that she'd have to divorce Frank, and Mark promised that he would care for Sienna as if she was his own.
The day he placed a beautiful diamond ring on Deborah's finger, Mark announced the engagement to his family. He admitted that his brother hadn't wanted him to marry a lowly maid, but he was confident he'd come around.
Deborah had to work to support her little daughter | Source: Unsplash
Whether or not he would have Deborah never knew because a week later Mark was killed in a car crash. That was the end of Deborah's dream of a new life. She got on a bus back home, back to her daughter and to Frank.
She moved back into her old house, but not into Frank's bed. That part of her life was over. Mark was gone, and Deborah knew she could never love or kiss or laugh with another man.
Over the years, Frank sank further into alcoholism, and Deborah focused all her energy and all her love on raising her lovely girl. She took back her job at the grill, and after a few years, she was promoted to manager.
Deborah moved to New York to make a better life for herself and her daughter | Source: Unsplash
It wasn't a bad life, Deborah sometimes told herself, she wasn't unhappy, only empty. When Sienna went off to college Deborah felt even lonelier, and Frank's stumbling presence in the house didn't help.
Then one day Frank too was gone. The doctors told her that his heart had simply stopped. Strangely enough, Deborah found herself grieving for Frank -- not the stumbling drunk who'd ruined her life, but the sweet, funny boy who'd loved her.
"I'm an albatross," Deborah told herself bitterly, "A black widow, I destroy everyone who loves me..."
Deborah found work as a maid in a hotel | Source: Pexels
Deborah closed herself off even more from the world around her, until Sienna came home a few months after Frank's death with wonderful news: She was getting married! Deborah saw her daughter's glowing face and her heart melted.
Sienna would find the happiness that had passed Deborah by, and this wedding was the first step. She had worked hard to make sure everything was perfect and it had been until the ghost of her lost love appeared on stage.
"Deborah!" the man who looked like Mark cried. "I made you a promise twenty years ago, that I would be the father your daughter needed, and I'm here to keep that promise!"
Deborah fell in love with Mark | Source: Unsplash
Deborah took a step forward and felt her knees give way. "Mark?" she asked. "Mark? Is that really you?" And before she knew it his arms were around her.
"Debbie," he whispered. "It took me so long to find you..."
"But you were dead...They told me..." Deborah cried.
"I was injured, and in a coma for a long time," Mark explained. "I went through years of surgery and therapy. Then when I came home my brother told me you'd gone back to your husband."
Mark died in a car crash | Source: Unsplash
"He said you were dead!" gasped Deborah. "I came home but Frank was never my husband again!"
Mark was smiling. "I saw his obituary and I decided to take a chance. The past is over, but we can still have a future, Deborah. Will you marry me?"
Deborah started laughing. She reached inside her dress and pulled out a chain with the engagement ring Mark had given her. "Yes, I will!"
Sienna ended up sharing her wedding day with her mother, and it was the most beautiful day of both their lives.
Mark and Deborah finally found each other | Source: Unsplash
What can we learn from this story?
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a woman who hands her teenage son to the police because she can't control him.
This account is inspired by our reader’s story and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone’s life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org