The 1980s Lovers Married Others. They Reconnected 23 Years Later

Grace Migliaccio made the last-minute decision to miss the flight.

1984 summertime. Grace, a young woman in her early 20s who had just graduated from college, used her resources to pay for a lengthy travel from her home in Washington, DC, to visit her Australian boyfriend, John Hiron.

Earlier that year, just before John was scheduled to leave town, the couple happened to meet at a party. Early on in their relationship, things moved quickly. After falling in love with Grace, John tried to extend his journey as much as possible.

They were “very head-over-heels madly in love,” as Grace describes it. John eventually had to return home because his visa was about to expire. Following that, Grace and John’s communication was limited to letters. The physical barrier between them created an emotional gap that was challenging to close, and it took weeks for their snail letter to arrive from abroad.

The 1980s Lovers Married Others. They Reconnected 23 Years Later
The 1980s Lovers Married Others. They Reconnected 23 Years Later

Grace began to worry as the time for her departure drew near.

Grace says to CNN Travel, “I had a dream that I was making a major mistake.” I had a terrible gut instinct that I shouldn’t go.

As she puts it, grace “was not an adventure taker,” which didn’t help. Grace made an impulsive call to John, looking for assurance. Due to the high long-distance costs, the couple hardly ever communicated on the phone, but she was becoming more frantic.

She remembers, “I needed him to tell me, ‘You’re doing the right thing. He wasn’t at home, though. John’s mother instead responded and offered to deliver the letter. Before John called Grace back, more than 36 hours had passed. Grace’s worry only grew at this time.

Should I attend? When John ultimately picked up the phone, Grace questioned.

John said, “If you want to.” This seeming carelessness sealed the deal for Grace. She admits, “I didn’t get on the plane. He went to the airport to pick me up, but I didn’t get off the plane since I wasn’t on it.

John admits, “I said the incorrect thing, without a doubt,” and takes responsibility for his youth. He now claims he wanted her to come, but he didn’t know how to say it, and the distance made it difficult.

John and his pals arrived at the airport and immediately proceeded to the bar when Grace failed to show. His pals told John over beers that he would meet someone else and move on. However, John was aware that he had lost something priceless.

He called Grace a few days later to find out what went wrong. Grace and John both tried to express their feelings over the choppy connection. Closing the loop felt insurmountable.

As the call and their relationship ended, Grace eventually stated, “I know we’re going to date other people, but we shouldn’t marry anyone else.” John, who was staying with his parents in Perth, thousands of miles away, questioned, “Why?” Because no one will ever love us the way we love each other, Grace explained.

Different Directions

Grace claims that she was “devastated” for months after that, but she made an effort not to think about what her life may have been like if she had taken her flight. She “set about attempting to go forward” instead.

To avoid being persuaded to alter her mind later, she says she purchased a car with the money she intended to use to travel to Australia. Years passed while John and Grace continued living in one other’s lives on the outskirts.

John recalls, “I’d call occasionally. “I called after a year, and she was married, and then I called when her parents passed away.”

Sometimes when John tried to call, he couldn’t because Grace had moved, and he was having trouble finding her. To find Grace, John once called an international directory in the US because there was no social media or email to help with this search.

These sporadic calls were bittersweet for Grace. Along the way, she explains, “I would swear, ‘I am not going to talk to him again. What is the point?’ because it would dredge up emotions. Of course, I always answered the phone when he called, but I always swore it was our last conversation.

The years passed by. Grace and John went on dates, got married, and then had kids with other people. Twenty-two years later, Grace claims, “I’d long since moved on from this romance.” But she had saved every letter John had written.

The items he gave me always accompanied me everywhere I went, no matter who I was with or how frequently I moved.

After that, John unexpectedly contacted Grace one day in January 2007. The two had not spoken for a while. They had both been going through difficult times in the interim; by coincidence, Grace and her husband had recently separated, and John and his wife had done the same.

According to John, “I said, ‘We’ve broken up, and I’m not married anymore.'” Grace echoed his words. That we were split up was unexpected, Grace explains. For a short period, the couple conversed, expressing their feelings regarding their respective divorces.

Maybe they could do a video call at some point, as John indicated that webcam technology was becoming more popular.

Grace explains, “I went to the neighborhood Staples and bought an external webcam. I connected it and had to figure out how to utilize it. And it was the first time we had seen one another in 22 years.

Even though the picture was slightly distorted and Grace needed a moment to get used to John’s grey hair, they instantly recognized one another.

It’s strange how your mind can fool your eye; instead of seeing the person who is 45, Grace claims that you know the one who is 22 years old. And as a result, the moment we met, there was a strong emotional reaction that was almost physical.

It was a little weird as well.

At first, Grace explains, “We didn’t have much to talk about since what is there to talk about?” Ask each other, “How are you handling the divorce? How are the kids? How are you doing it?” while also catching up on each other’s lives and what has been happening.

Nevertheless, they made plans to talk again, and over the following three months, they routinely made video calls. Grace and John were drawn to one another, and their phone talks became a source of joy for them both.

When John gets home from work, they sit down, he watches TV, the webcam is on, and they chat for the rest of the evening. After some time, John recommended that he travel to the US to meet in person.

Grace hesitated, wondering if this was a bad idea. She asked her marriage counselor, and he advised that seeing John would provide much-needed closure.

She advised them, and it backfired: “This will be nice for you to see each other, and you’ll never see each other again, so it’s a safe thing to do. You’re not going to get into something complicated because how could you? You’re so far away.


1984 summertime. Grace, a young woman in her early 20s who had just finished college, spent all her money on a long trip from Washington, DC, to Australia to see her boyfriend, John Hiron.

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