A woman has revealed the heartbreaking moment her husband-to-be left her at the altar.
The couple were standing beside each other at their own wedding ceremony. Right when it came to the moment for him to say "I do", different words came out of his mouth.
"Instead, I got five gut-wrenching ones. 'I just can't do it'," the anonymous woman wrote on website Love What Matters.
"My groom, or runaway I should call him, didn't even look me in the eye as he said it.
"It didn't make sense. Nothing made sense. He had just been smiling, gazing at me lovingly moments before.
"It was every girl's nightmare and my reality."
She said she remembered looking at the priest, as if to check she'd heard it right. The look on his face said it all.
She could hear her mother's voice saying "I'm going to kill him".
"I placed my face in my hands, sobbing," she said.
"There was an eerie silence now.
"My sister and my mother ran over, got on their knees, and held me.
"I wept like a baby in their arms.
"My makeup was ruined, my perfect wedding day ruined, my heart ruined."
She said she slowly began coming to her senses and noticed everyone still standing there in front of her.
Except for the groom, who'd left while she was trying to process what had just happened.
Her young son ran forward and launched himself into her arms.
"My son had a blank expression on his face as if he could sense my hurt," she said.
"My father shooed all the guests away and told them to give me some space."
The woman says the spent the next few days in a haze, barely getting out of bed at her sister's house. Her parents took care of her little boy.
When she returned to the home she shared with her now ex-partner, she found all of his belongings were gone.
"I was obsessed and crazed, looking for any trace of him. I found none. He was gone."
Two days later, her sister received a text from him: "I'm so sorry. You'd want me to be happy, right? I want that for her, too. I'm just not the one," it said.
"I'm not sure what my sister replied. I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to know.
"I just wanted to know who she was. The girl. The reason my heart was blown to pieces."
She said she only found out that he had a new relationship when she saw his updated relationship status on Facebook, months after their wedding day.
"You'd think he'd have the decency to block me?" she said.
"Or I'd have the brains to unfollow him and stop periodically snooping around on his profile. But can you blame me?"
The woman said she was enraged he'd left her in such a humiliating way but now, two years on, she says she is mostly hurt he walked out on their son.
"A life that will feel his absence way stronger than I ever will," she said.
"I know my heart will mend itself someway, somehow. But can a child ever stop mourning the loss of their father? And, even worse, a father that still walks this Earth."
She says her son is too young to understand what happened and, when he asks for Daddy, she tells him he's in heaven.
"I worry about what I'll tell him when he's older," she said.
"I hate to have to lie to him now, but I know he's too young to comprehend it all.
"I fear that one day, somehow, the runaway will run into him. Or worse, he will look for him. That he'll try to take away my baby, all I have left."
This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.