Over the years that we have been together, there have been countless occasions when I have come to the sudden, abrupt, heart-stopping realisation that there is nobody else in this world that I would rather spend the rest of my life with than you. Here on this very special day, I would like to tell you about just ten of them.
Happy wedding day, Mr Sunshine. This one’s for you.
1. It’s December 2012, and it’s coming up to Christmas. We have been dating for just over three months. I’ve been away for two weeks in Australia staying with my dad and his family, and as I stumble through the arrival gates at Heathrow at 4am after nearly 24 hours travelling (and very little sleep), I am gutted to see that Costa isn’t yet open. I could really do with a coffee. I fumble in my purse for my Oyster card, and then suddenly, there’s a hand on my shoulder, and I swivel around to find…you. You are here to take me home. To carry my bag. To tell me that I look beautiful despite the fact I have mascara smudged over my left cheek and eye bags down to my chin. To tell me that you missed me every second that I was away. How did you know what time my plane was getting in? You messaged Romana of course! Wouldn’t you be tired for work? Don’t be silly, you’ve taken the day off to look after me and bring me food in between naps. I hold you tight, and vow to never let you go.
2. It’s June 2013, a Saturday. Early morning sunlight is creeping in through your flimsy curtains, waking me long before I’m ready to get up and start my day. I roll over, and hug you from behind, willing myself to fall back to sleep. Your phone rings, and you stir. I make a joke that it’s probably Duncan. It’s Duncan. He’s calling about Doha. I hear snatched parts of the conversation. “Very good offer…four weeks…you need to make arrangements”. I know what it is before you tell me. And I already know that you have to go. You tell me that you’re going for me, for us, for our future family. To build a future for us. You promise me that nothing will change, that Doha isn’t that bad and I can visit and that you’ll always love me. But you won’t go if I don’t want you to. You give me the option, but I have already made up my mind. You are going and that’s that, even though it hurts every part of my being to say it.
3. It’s September 2013, a different airport arrival gate. This time I’m more awake, more alert. I excitedly scan the faces through the glass, seeking out your familiar flop of hair; your lop-sided grin. Then I find you and I’m winded. I can’t breathe. Your hair is longer. You look more tanned. I swear you’ve got taller. But you’re you. And you have a look on your face which mirrors mine. I feel like I have been away from you for so long. The walk along the glass corridor takes forever, and when I eventually get there, we can’t embrace in the way I want to, because everybody is watching, silently judging. In the safety of the taxi, you take my hand and pass me a book. Best Friends. I don’t know it then, but that book will live forevermore on my bedside table and I will read it every time I’m sad.
4. It’s November 2013, just two months later and I have just moved all of my worldly possessions to Doha. You take a week off work to help me to settle in. One night, we head down to the jacuzzi after the concierge has come to turn all the lights off. We aren’t supposed to be there but if we’re quiet nobody will notice. We feel rebellious. We look up at the stars and comment on how they look different here. The moon’s upside down. We try to pick out Orion’s Belt, but we can’t find it. We vow we’ll learn more about the constellations. I don’t know anybody in Doha, I should feel alone and scared but I have never felt so safe. That night I fall asleep with stars in my eyes.
5. It’s December 2013, and I have a third and final interview for a job. It’s a really good one and I want it like I’ve never wanted another job before. I want to make you proud, and for you to believe that me moving out here was the right thing to do. My alarm goes off at 6am and as I roll sleepily out of bed, I notice that you are there with me. You are going to make me breakfast. Then you’re going to take me to my interview. You don’t care what the time is, you want to be there. It’s as important to you as it is to me. I sit down next to the rose on the dining room table which you gave me the night before, and when you hand me a mug of tea and smile at me with sleepy eyes, I know that I can do this.
6. It’s August 2014 and we are in New York, nearing the final leg of our tour of the US. We take jet skis out into New York Harbour in the early morning, while the fog is still rising from the water. I’m nervous, I’ve only ever been on the back of a jet ski before and I can’t seem to control the steering. You tell me I can do it, that’s it’s easy. You show me how. We round a bend in the river, and I can see the Statue of Liberty in front of us, and I get a sudden burst of confidence. You and Jim are picking up speed, skimming over the waves, whooping and grinning and I want to be with you. I hold down the throttle and grip hard with my thighs until I reach 40 MPH, and I begin to catch up. As I overtake you, you turn and smile at me like a proud parent and I should feel patronised but instead I’m proud too. I keep my hand on the throttle the whole way back, and with the wind in my hair, and you and Jim by my side, I have never felt so free and full of life.
7. It’s September 2014 and you play me our video and then get down on one knee in the sand. I can’t see the ring through my tears, but I can see your eyes glistening in the moonlight. I was always going to say yes.
8. It’s November 2014 and you are in hospital recovering from a serious operation on your lower spine. Your grandfather has passed away and we are supposed to be on a flight home for his funeral. I visit with coffees from your favourite coffee shop in an attempt to cheer you up. I struggle through the door, my hands full of plastic cups and bags slung over my arms and catch sight of you on the bed, attached to your drip, looking weak and tired. My heart aches. You look up slowly and and as your eyes grow accustomed to the dark and you see me, your whole face lights up. You tell me today’s hospital menu is excellent, that you’ve ordered me a guest meal and did I want to sit down over there and do some blogging? The A/C’s up high so you’ll ask for a blanket to keep me warm. You’re in pain, both physically and mentally but all you want to do is check that I’m OK.
9. It’s January 2015 and I have lost my mojo. I come home at the end of a very long and difficult week and I am mulling over in my mind how to tell you how I think it is time we moved back home to the UK. You haven’t got back from work yet, and I head towards the bathroom to splash some cold water on my puffy, tired eyes. I stop at the bed. You have left me a note. “Hey bub. Well done for getting through this week! Now you can put on your comfy lounge pants and read a book or maybe do some honeymoon prep on the couch. Time to relax! 🙂 Love you lots, Richy x”. In a heartbeat, I know that everything is OK and it always will be. We never have that conversation.
10. It’s July 2015 and all of our friends and family have arrived for our Big Day. We make our way to the Church for the rehearsal and stop outside the front porch. There’s lots of people to greet and some you have never met before. I give my half sisters a huge hug and look over at you over their shoulders. You are calmly speaking with one of my cousins. It’s as if you met them years ago and saw them just yesterday, you’re so easy and natural. You look over at me and smile. At the end of the aisle I think I’m going to cry but instead all I feel is calmness. This is where I’m supposed to be. Next to you. You hold my hand as we listen to what our vows are going to be and never have those simple words sounded so meaningful.
Richard John Byles, I love you to the sun and back. See you back at the end of the aisle!