When a member of your family has a chronic illness, be they in remission or otherwise, that fact tends to colour all other life events. So it is, with great joy and gratitude, I celebrate my daughter Laura (aka Stomalicious) and son-in-law Mikey’s, 20th anniversary of being together as a couple.
It’s one of those events that my internal, automatic camera snapped and remains there in my life album still. An image of a skinny, blond, long-haired young bloke, sitting on the front porch outside our house, beer in hand (at least I think it was a beer . . . the image isn’t quite that detailed!) I was just arriving back from some holiday or other and there you were and I remember thinking to myself “I know what those two have been up to!”
And was it for me, love at first sight?? Most certainly not! “This won’t last,” I thought. In fact, I really didn’t like Mikey much at all. He wasn’t a great communicator back then and also there was the quickly gained knowledge of an association with a fellow, whose name I have now forgotten, who I really didn’t like! In retrospect, perhaps I owe that fellow a vote of thanks because I think it was through him and the neighbours across the road, that you two got to meet each other! And even though I think I was quite a liberal Mum, of course I thought that Laura, who had barely finished school, was far too young for any long-term relationship!!! It would be a flash in the pan!!
If you’d told me then that twenty years later I would look back on a lifetime of events far too numerous and diverse to list . . . There have been life’s ‘big’ events, finding new jobs and leaving old ones, finding new places to live and leaving old ones, travel experiences, births, deaths and marriages (including your own!) . . . all those things of which life consists. You have become property owners and landlords. You have travelled, quite literally, the world. You have been granted the gift of great friends, and you have seen their lives change and families grow. You have lived your lives to the full and filled them with those all-important ‘smaller’ events . . . music gigs all over the world (high on both your agendas), great food and culinary experiences and generally, a true enjoyment of the good things in life. For myself, I have some photos in that life album filled with internal shots, that include quite an array of events I’ve been lucky enough to share with you, both at home and on shared travels.
Then, there have been those not so happy times. While it is easy to cast them out as unwanted memories in the midst of what is now four years of remission and amazing good health for you Laura, since your major surgery, I think it is extremely important to acknowledge them and remember them as truly life-changing aspects of our lives. Perhaps Laura, your illness did more to bring Mikey and I together than anything else, even all those good times. One of the enlarged photos in my life album (indeed, it has a page all to itself) is of Mikey and I ‘waiting’ in the lounge area at the end of 3 South, and of you being wheeled by and raising your hand in recognition after your surgery . . . and the shared relief. I believe I collapsed in a blubbering mess in Mikey’s arms! And there have been many other ‘waitings’ too over coffees and meals, at home during long nights when you were in hospital and visiting hours were over, in doctors’ surgeries and outside toilets in just about every conceivable context! And there have been a zillion shared and intimate moments when Mikey and I did whatever had to be done to make your life more bearable and comfortable. Through that time, Mikey was as much a rock for me as he was for you and I cannot imagine having been able to cope without him.
That you are now able to live your lives, fulfil your dreams, travel the world is all thanks to your ‘little guy’ stoma, to that life-saving and life-changing surgery. Your illness has given us all a different perspective on life, made us aware of the importance of caring for ourselves and supporting each other and given us an overall awareness that we would otherwise not have. Gratitude is my overwhelming emotion and, while life goes on normally now and without any obsession about illness or anxiety about the future, we must always maintain that awareness and gratitude and never become complacent.
And so it is that, over twenty years, it has not only been your relationship as a couple, but also our family bond that has strengthened and flourished. I don’t see Mikey as an add on to our family. I don’t have a son but if I did, I couldn’t love him more than I love Mikey.
And of course, my love for you Laura, and my joy in seeing you well, in remission, living your life to the full, knows no bounds and goes without stating, because words simply can’t!
And on reflection it suddenly occurs to me. Nearly all of those internal, automated photos in my ‘This is your life’ album, are of major life events. If I thought this was only a flash in the pan, how come that camera snapped? Perhaps my inner, subconscious knew: this one’s for life! 💑
Congratulations to you both and more love than you can ever know on this, the occasion of your 20th anniversary of being a couple.