Laura’s Pen tells the story of how she met her partner, and how they coped when she became chronically ill…
I was in a pub, near Waterloo station. I was fairly squiffy on cider and beer. We were celebrating the birthday of a uni friend, Will, who is an extremely generous soul and ensured my glass was always full (much like my dear departed Grandad Ken). But the world wasn’t spinning just yet…
Then a man came in dressed from head to toe in white and headed for the toilets. I laughed and said: “Where’s he come from, the cricket?”
Everyone laughed (which in hindsight was quite weird, it wasn’t one of my better jokes, but then everyone else was drunk too.) (Many would argue that is one of my better jokes because I mostly like children’s/dad jokes)
Then, and I don’t know if he knows this, he joined the group dressed normally and I did not realise it was the same man (he’d only put white shorts on to cycle there).Which is probably good, because then I would have realised I’d just mocked everyone’s good friend and been ever so slightly mortified.
He bore a striking resemblance to a young Richard E Grant, and he was joyful, passionate and funny and for some bizarre reason kept bringing me more drinks.
He told me he was a cameraman, so I told him I was extremely photogenic (I’m a bit full of myself when drunk off my tits) and proceeded to take the photos you can see.
That’s his brother, Tim, in the middle. I still haven’t managed to get rid of him to this day (only kidding Tim!)
We were snogging by the end of the night by his bike he’d locked up somewhere near the station (please do not follow his example and cycle drunk kids).
I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I certainly did fancy the pants off him, and before long the “L” word popped up and we were talking about moving in together.
It turned out, after many relationships that went stale when I wanted commitment and the other did not, I was the commitment-phobe in this relationship. He could see I was scared about the idea, but I said yes, because it also excited me.
This man was making life sparkle for me. And he is the first partner whose first impression of me didn’t cloud his vision of what I actually am. He saw me as a loud and cocky drunk, but he saw I was vulnerable and shy and introverted sober, or “sweet” as he saw it. And we both were passionate about our careers, about carving out a future, and about having each other to do that with.
Then I got ill. It was sudden and it was devastating. It nearly broke me, it nearly broke him, and it nearly broke us.
There was grief. So much grief. I was in my own bubble for a long time and I didn’t see him suffering the loss too. I felt like a burden and so never asked for help, but also got very angry and irritable because he didn’t somehow psychically read my mind when I needed it.
But each time we nearly broke we discovered new ways to deal with this life. And I had to put myself back together, at least mentally (still working on the physically), too.
But he was always there, always trying, always loving.
He believed in me and my idea when I said I wanted to write a novel when I was unable to work any longer. (Although I was slightly miffed that when he read some he said it was like it was written by a “real” writer!)
Side note: novel is being written incredibly slowly and has only been looked at once in the past three months at least. I’m not sitting at home writing all day, far from it.
He has supported me financially, mentally and physically. There was a time I had to hold his arm for support as I walked. And there have been many times he’s opened his arms and I have sobbed into them.
When I was little I used to day dream of being swept off my feet by a knight dressed in white. My ideals have now changed somewhat. I am not the princess that needs saving from a dragon. But without this man, this kind, joyful, passionate man who entered my life dressed all in white, I would possibly still be lost in grief, he saved me from that.
He is strong of heart and he keeps the flame within me burning.
And his name is Ivan
And I love him.
Happy Valentines Day my love,
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