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A handwritten note | Source: Shutterstock
A handwritten note | Source: Shutterstock

My Ex-husband Sent Me a Flash Drive Before He Died – Now I Can't Forgive Myself for Divorcing Him

author
May 16, 2024
11:20 A.M.

Katherine's heart raced as she unearthed a forgotten flash drive left by her late ex-husband Tom. What she discovered on that drive would haunt her with both regret and a deeper, unresolved affection.

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Katherine | Source: Midjourney

Katherine | Source: Midjourney

I’m Katherine, 43, with no husband and no kids. I live a quiet life, and honestly, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. My days are simple, filled with work, books, and long walks in the park near my house. It’s a peaceful existence and I’ve come to cherish it after all the noise of my younger years.

That peace was shattered last Thursday. When I checked my mail, among the usual bills and catalogs, there was an envelope that stood out. It was plain, but it felt heavy. Curious, I opened it right there in the hallway. Inside was a flash drive, nothing else, just a small piece of plastic that seemed so innocent yet ominous.

Katherine looks at the envelope | Source: Midjourney

Katherine looks at the envelope | Source: Midjourney

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No note, no explanation—just a tag with Tom’s name scribbled on it. Tom, my high school sweetheart, my ex-husband whom I hadn’t heard from in over 15 years. My heart skipped a beat, and I stood frozen, staring at his name. What could this mean?

Tom and I met when we were 16, too young to understand anything about life but old enough to fall in love—or so we thought. We were inseparable throughout high school, and everyone said we were the perfect match. Right after college, we got married. It felt right at the time. It was like we were continuing a fairy tale.

Katherine and Tom on their wedding | Source: Midjourney

Katherine and Tom on their wedding | Source: Midjourney

But life isn't a fairy tale. The small town we lived in started to feel like a cage. I wanted more—more places, more people, more experiences. Tom, however, was content.

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He loved our life, our routines, our home. I felt trapped, stifled by the familiarity and the predictability. The more I longed to break free, the more we argued, the distance between us growing daily.

Katherine feels trapped | Source: Midjourney

Katherine feels trapped | Source: Midjourney

Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore. I asked for a divorce. It was the hardest decision I had ever made, but I thought it was necessary—for both of us. Tom was devastated, and so was I, in a way. We parted with heavy hearts and lives that needed mending.

With trembling hands, I plugged the flash drive into my computer. My heart was pounding as I clicked on the folder. A single video file was all that was there. I hesitated for a moment, not sure if I was ready for what was about to come, but curiosity and a deep sense of foreboding drove me to press play.

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Katherine at her laptop | Source: Midjourney

Katherine at her laptop | Source: Midjourney

Tom appeared on the screen, but he was not the Tom I remembered. His face was pale, his eyes tired, and his voice had a frailty that made my chest tighten. He looked straight into the camera, into me, and started speaking.

"Katherine," he began, his voice cracking, "if you're watching this, it means I'm probably gone. I got sick, really sick, and there's no coming back from it. I didn't want to tell you before because I wanted you to remember me as I was, not like this."

Tom | Source: Midjourney

Tom | Source: Midjourney

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He paused, taking a deep, shaky breath. "I've spent a lot of time thinking about us, about everything we went through. You were the love of my life, Katherine. Letting you go was the hardest thing I ever did, and I've regretted it every day since."

Tears streamed down my face as I listened to him pour out his heart.

"I understand if you've moved on, I really do. But I needed you to know how I felt. As for my things," he continued, looking down briefly, "I don't have much to leave behind, but what I have, I want you to have it. If you don't want it, that's okay too. Maybe give it to a charity or something meaningful."

Tom says his goodbye | Source: Midjourney

Tom says his goodbye | Source: Midjourney

The video ended with him offering a weak smile and a final goodbye. I sat there, stunned, the silence of the room echoing around me.

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I sat frozen, staring at the blank screen after the video ended. My heart was pounding so loudly I could hear it in my ears. Shock coursed through me as the weight of Tom's words pressed down. He was sick, maybe even... No, I couldn’t think it, not yet.

Shocked Katherine | Source: Midjourney

Shocked Katherine | Source: Midjourney

Frantically, I closed the laptop and reached for my phone. I had to find him, to talk to him, to see him—if there was still time. My fingers trembled as I scrolled through my contacts, but Tom’s number was long gone. Who could know? Who kept in touch with him?

I remembered John, Tom’s close friend from college who sometimes posted on Facebook. Maybe he could help. My hands shook as I typed a message to him, my words stumbling over each other.

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Katherine thinks what to do next | Source: Midjourney

Katherine thinks what to do next | Source: Midjourney

"John, it’s Katherine. I need your help urgently. Do you know where Tom is? Is he in a hospital? Please, any information you have— I need to see him."

I hit send, my heart sinking as I waited for the seen indicator to light up. Every second dragged, and each tick of the clock was a sharp reminder that time might be running out.

Minutes after I sent the message, my phone buzzed. John’s reply was short, the words striking like a cold wave: "Katherine, I’m so sorry. Tom passed away last week. There was a small service with just a few friends. He left you a box. It's on its way to you."

Katherine cries over the message | Source: Midjourney

Katherine cries over the message | Source: Midjourney

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I read the message over and over, each word slicing deeper into my heart. Tears blurred my vision as the finality of it all sank in. I was too late. The pain of regret was overwhelming, a mix of sorrow and something else—guilt.

Why hadn’t I reached out sooner? Could I have made his last days better? The thoughts haunted me, a relentless echo of missed opportunities and lost time.

In the following days, I wrestled with what to do next. Tom had left things for me, a final gesture of love and forgiveness. I knew I had to honor his wishes.

The box | Source: Midjourney

The box | Source: Midjourney

Inside the small wooden box that Tom had left for me, nestled among the layers of old, yellowed tissue paper, were several small trinkets. They instantly pulled me back to the days when our love was new and everything seemed filled with promise.

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My fingers brushed against a small, faded movie ticket stub—the first movie we had ever seen together. I smiled, remembering how Tom had insisted on keeping it as a souvenir of our first date. Even though the movie had been forgettable, our shared laughter was not.

Katherine looks at the shell | Source: Midjourney

Katherine looks at the shell | Source: Midjourney

Beneath the ticket, there was a little seashell. We had found it on the beach during a spontaneous road trip to the coast, our first adventure together. Tom had playfully placed it in my hair, calling me his "mermaid." It was silly and sweet, a moment of pure joy I had almost forgotten.

And then, there was the last item, a photo of us taken during our last encounter before the divorce. We were at a friend's barbecue, trying to smile for the camera despite the tension between us.

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Katherine looks at her last photo with Tom | Source: Midjourney

Katherine looks at her last photo with Tom | Source: Midjourney

Looking at it now, I could see the sadness in our eyes, the unspoken realization that it was the end of our journey together. But even in that moment of farewell, there was a tenderness, a reluctance to let go.

These little treasures, each a chapter of our shared history, now lay in my hands, heavy with the weight of all the years and all the words left unsaid. They were more than just objects; they were fragments of a life that could have been and a poignant reminder of the love that once colored my world.

Katherine at the cemetery | Source: Midjourney

Katherine at the cemetery | Source: Midjourney

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Finally, I found the courage to visit his grave. It was a crisp fall day, the leaves a burst of color against the somber grays of the cemetery. I brought daisies, his favorite, and a letter I had written in response to his video.

"Dear Tom," I began, my hand trembling as I placed the letter against the cool stone of his headstone. "I watched your video. I heard every word, felt every emotion. I am so sorry for everything— for leaving, for not being there, for losing so many years. Thank you for your love, for the memories, and for this last gift. I forgive you, and I hope you can forgive me too. I’ll always carry a piece of you with me."

Daises on Tom's grave | Source: Midjourney

Daises on Tom's grave | Source: Midjourney

Leaving the flowers and the letter, I stood up, feeling a gentle breeze. In that moment, surrounded by the whispers of the past, I felt a sense of peace. It was time to move forward, carrying Tom’s memory with a heart ready to heal.

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This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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