Two friends made a pact to get married when they were 30 – then the unthinkable happened

By Joanie Bergh
29 October 2016

This story of true love – and loss – will break your heart.

Have you ever made a marriage pact with someone?

The sort of pact where you and someone agree that if you reach a specific age and neither of you is married to someone else you’ll marry each other?

On website Imgur.com Alex Clifford moved many people when he told his story of a marriage pact he made with his best friend more than 10 years ago. They agreed that when she was 30 and he was 32 and they were both unmarried they'd marry each other.

But no one could have predicted the end of their love story.

“We met in college and were instant best friends,” Alex says. “I was 20 and she was 18. We spent all our time together and were briefly lovers but never formally dated because both of us were into being wild and free and enjoying our youth. We dated other people on and off.”

They agreed that a committed relationship between them would be an all-or-nothing kind of thing. Because at that stage they didn’t want to be in a serious relationship or give up their “irresponsible” lifestyle, they decided to remain only friends.

“A few years went by that way and we were very happy – until her two sisters, aged 16 and 18, died in a car accident.”

Both were dead on arrival at the hospital.

“My friend was utterly, completely devastated. Her father was even more devastated, to the point where he was willing to let himself starve to death rather than go on living.”

Alex’s friend moved back home to take care of him. For two years after the accident she broke contact with all her friends, including Alex.

When he saw her again she was different. Before the accident she’d been the happiest, most positive person Alex had ever met. After she came back she was quieter, sadder and perhaps wiser.

“I wanted to be there for her more than I’d ever wanted anything in the world. Not being able to fix things for her, not being able to make it better, that hurt more than anything I could remember. I guess that’s when I realised how in love with her I was.”

Read more: ‘A funeral for my marriage’: Woman’s heartrending tale of how her relationship with her husband became a loveless prison

Alex told his friend he was in love with her and that he wanted to be with her.  She told him she couldn’t handle the idea of any emotional connection for a while.

She said she needed time. Maybe a few years. She needed to figure out what it meant to be alive in a world where her sisters were gone.

“She told me she’d never been happier than she was when we were together,” Alex says. “I told her the same.”

Then the couple made a marriage pact.

Alex was 25 and she was 23.

“We agreed that if she turned 30 and I turned 32, and if she'd learnt to heal, and she hadn’t fallen in love with someone else, and if I hadn’t fallen in love with someone else, we’d get married.”

With the pact made Alex and his best friend went their separate ways.

She moved to Wyoming to be alone and Alex went to Germany to be as far away from her as possible.

During the following years they gradually began to correspond. Sometimes they’d post each other books each thought the other would like.

In this way they became closer.

“When I turned 30 I half-jokingly brought up our marriage pact,” Alex says. “I told her I hadn’t ever fallen for anyone else. I’d compared every other woman to her and in my memory she was perfect.

“She said she was still very serious about our agreement and that she’d never fallen in love with anyone else either. I asked her if she thought she’d begun to heal and she said she had, as much as anyone could ever heal from something like that.”

They decided to meet and spend time together to see if the spark was still there.

“It was,” Alex says.

Read more: ‘They were soulmates’: Bela-Bela couple announced they were in love – hours later, they were dead

Meanwhile Alex celebrated his 32nd birthday. He proposed to her six months later but she said they had to wait another few months for her to turn 30.

“I thought it was silly but at that point things were going so well that a few months didn’t seem like they’d matter at all.”

But Alex couldn't have been more wrong.

“She died. That’s how the story ends. She was hit by a drunk driver and spent two days in intensive care before her body gave out. I went to her funeral and spoke to her father but I barely remember what we said. I’ve never spoken to him since. I don’t have the will power to make myself find out how he’s doing." That was four years ago. “I’m in therapy and trying to learn how to have feelings again other than blank, mindless, miserable rage. I often wonder if this is what it felt like for her. She made progress. She learnt to feel again. That thought is what keeps me going. She did it. She’d want me to do it. “That’s it. That’s the story. It’s a s**tty story and I hate it.” Do you have a heartrending story to share? Email it to web@you.co.za, or upload it here.

Right in the feels.

Find Love!

Men
Women