The relief I felt after we received the (albeit incredibly obtuse) notification from the UKBA that their visas had been granted was like nothing I’d ever known.
You know that moment, two minutes after the washing machine stops spinning, when you can’t quite place what it is that’s changed? Then you realise that irritating noise has stopped and peace has returned?
That was what it was like for the next couple of days. I would find myself thinking; “There’s something different about…me?…life?..something… Oh yes, that’s it, that constant, nagging feeling of tension and anxiety that’s been with me for the last few weeks has evaporated, like self-pity under the warmth of Her smile. I’m actually HAPPY!”
The only minor obstacle now was their insistence on not giving a specific timescale for the return of Her documents. Apparently, “administrative formalities” made it impossible for them to guarantee an exact date. Which was slightly galling, as we’d had to include a “two day return” label in the package for them to mail it back to us.
It also didn’t help in the matter of buying Her plane tickets.
Her hosts at the lake house (who had also generously offered to give them a lift) were going on holiday themselves on November 19th and given that they would all be leaving from the same airport, a six hour drive away, it made sense that they go on the same day.
But the bureaucrats, having passed down their judgement, remained aloof and tight lipped, refusing to be drawn on specifics.
So we waited.
Only this time it wasn’t the anxious, perpetually-on-edge sort of waiting, this time it was the pleasant tingle of anticipation sort, the grinning like an idiot for no particular reason sort, and it was lovely.
It took me back to the early days of our love, the days when the wonder of Her was just beginning to sink in. The days when everything was new and the excitement of Her impending first visit was almost unbearable in its intensity.
This was different though, this time I knew what I’d been missing.
This time I’d already confirmed what we’d both really known before we met, that we were made for each other.
This time I’d been painfully missing Her for three months.
And this time She was bringing Her daughter.
I couldn’t wait.
The wave of affection I felt every time I thought of them was now my friend, no longer simply a cold reminder of what I could not have, now it was like being engulfed in a warm and comforting embrace.
So we waited.
And just as it was starting to get just a tiny bit irritating, She got another e-mail.
This one was from UPS, the carrier that was delivering Her documents.
The package had been despatched and would be with Her in (allegedly) just two days.
I was at work, trying to keep my mind busy last Thursday afternoon, when I got a message from Her;
– Want to Skype while I open the package?
I very nearly cracked my phone screen, I hit that little blue thumb symbol so hard.
Just in case She wasn’t sure.
I rushed out of the office and into the car park, dialing the video call as I did so and then there She was, holding a large manilla envelope and grinning into the camera while Her friend videotaped the opening ceremony in the background.
She tore open the envelope and extracted the carefully colour-coded files She had sent our application in (they clearly needed everything made as simple as possible for them and every little helps) and as She sorted through the piles of paperwork I could hear Her friend saying excitedly; “Find the one with the damn passports in!”
She found one.
I saw Her opening it and saw the look in Her eyes as She looked at me over the top of the little cardboard booklet that held the key to our future.
She turned it round to show me the page containing a picture of Her daughter and a fuzzy stamp.
I said; “Is there a stamp there that wasn’t there before?”, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear Her say it.
“Yes, Entry Clearance Visa. We’ll be home next Thursday baby.”
I didn’t hear what She said next because I was jumping up and down in the car park whooping my head off and laughing like a madman.
I did eventually say; “You better check that’s it’s not just her they gave it to, hahaha.” and a lot of other incoherent nonsense too I expect.
Suffice to say, we were thrilled.
A week? Ha!
I could do a week standing on my head after all we’d been through.
But for Her it would be a bittersweet time, a time of family farewells and small, happy but tearful gatherings of close friends, all of whom had spent many years being touched by the lives of these two special people and whose sadness at their leaving I can only imagine.
I owe a debt of huge gratitude to all of those friends for the unfailing love and support they gave the woman I love and the bright eyed little girl who was embarking on such a gigantic adventure.
We couldn’t have done any of this without them, or the generous friends and relatives, on both sides of the Atlantic, who have helped make our dream a wonderful reality.
So thank you all, if you’re reading this, you’ve made three people very happy.
All that remained was for me to do some last minute shopping, get a few repair jobs done around the flat (by our very nice maintenance man who was as good as his word when he said he’d drop everything and come straight round as soon as I knew “when your partner is coming with the little one”) and enjoy the fact that I wouldn’t have to see Her on a tiny plastic screen anymore.
And tomorrow morning, Thursday November 20th, 2014, the day we were originally to have got married, I will pick them up from the airport and bring them Home.