It was half-hearted that Irish-American couple Bill and Laurie McGrath made their journey to Dublin last week to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
It was not because they were reluctant to go on the trip, or were in any way unhappy to visit their ancestral home, but because in their possession was just one-half of a heart-shaped pendant Bill had presented to Laurie some 26 years earlier. The other half? At that moment in time, buried in a cemetery in Co. Cork.
In 1990, when Laurie was 29-years-old, she was embarking on a trip to Ireland with two close friends and leaving behind her then-boyfriend Bill. Unwilling to see her leave without having a token to remember him by, Bill gifted Laurie a two-part heart-shaped necklace inscribed with the words “Best Friends,” encouraging her to keep one half for herself, and to bury the other half some place in Ireland where they would return as a couple to find it in the future.
"Let me give her something we could still look forward to when we go back," he recalled to The New London Day in a recent interview.
After passing on burying the half-necklace at the Cliffs of Moher for fear that erosion would cause it to disappear, and also saying ‘no’ to Blarney Castle where constant gardening work could unearth it from its hiding place, Laurie was running out of options, as the end of her trip drew ever closer.
Fearing she would lose her opportunity, the group eventually came to a beautiful old church and cemetery in Castletownroche in Cork and, with just a spoon, Laurie enclosed the half a heart in a box and buried it three or four inches below the ground, along with a love letter to Bill.
The couple, who married a year after Laurie's trip and now have four children and four grandchildren, felt their 25th anniversary was the right the time to reunite the two halves of the heart.
With the help of old photographs, GPS, and some local librarians, the McGraths relocated the cemetery in question and, with bated breath, began the search for the necklace. Just 40 minutes later, again with the help of a trusty spoon, they came across the best anniversary present they could wish for. The love letter and cardboard box had not stood the test of time, but there, wrapped in the plastic bag, was the other half of their heart still sparkling.
"It's got to be here because we took two days in that spot just to make sure we were going to find it. We would've dug everything in the cemetery,” Bill told NBC Connecticut.
Unfortunately for the couple, the half of the necklace in their house is proving more difficult to locate than the one buried in the Earth. They’re not letting that ruin the beauty of their rediscovery, however.
"Too much in love still after all these years," Bill continued.