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It has all been for this moment.

image The rest was surprisingly simple.

The last few days of waiting were pure anticipation, all bureaucratic obstacles overcome, all arrangements made and confirmed, just the formality of signing a register to go, before the rest of society would acknowledge the commitment we had pledged to one another long ago, we could finally get on with our lives (after yet more visa paperwork) and She could get a job.

All through the weekend I found myself grinning at Her like an idiot and, as if saying it out loud would make it seem less surreal, I would say; “We’re getting married on Tuesday!” and burst out laughing.
I had never thought I’d get to this point and now I was here, it seemed, through all the dreamlike haze, the most natural thing in the world.
I could honestly look inside myself and detect not the slightest doubt, hesitation or indecision.
There was nothing I wanted more than to spend the rest of my life with these two special people and almost before I knew it, The Big Day arrived.

I’d taken the Tuesday off work to get married, and the Wednesday too, for our honeymoon.
Not the wedding of the century then, but nonetheless it was all we wanted, all bar one thing.
Due to one final twist of the bureaucratic knife, we would be having our little ceremony without Missy in attendance. The seemingly immutable laws of the Chief Registrar stated that, without paying an extra £70 to cover “up to 30 guests”, only ourselves and our two witnesses would be allowed in the ceremony room.
Working as we were on a tight budget, paying seventy quid extra for one six year old was not an expense we could justify, although Missy was focused mainly on the reception, (to be held a month or so later, once we could give people rather more notice than we’d had available for the wedding itself) so we played down the day as “just signing some boring documents” and that seemed fine by her.

I got up early and took Missy to school, then made my way out onto the moors to pick up Chris, old friend, wedding witness, financial saviour and one of the people we really couldn’t have done all this without.
After that it was just a matter of going home to get changed and sit chatting, waiting for the hands on the clock to crawl up to midday.
She was already dressed when Chris and I returned and She looked positively radiant, glowing with happiness and, like me, not in the least bit nervous.

We drove into town and parked by the concrete monstrosity that houses the civic centre and registry office, arriving just in time to meet Becca, a former housemate of mine and the second witness to our nuptials.
Whilst Chris and Becca were shown into the ceremony room, She and I went with the registrar, to confirm all our details and be walked through the last steps of a journey that had begun with a misplaced thumb on Facebook, over six months ago and nearly four thousand miles away.

To be honest, I doubt if I would have noticed if there’d been a hundred people in the room, all I remember is looking at Her and speaking the words we were asked to repeat, Her eyes as calm and beautiful as that first day of revelation, looking up at me with an expression that told me all I needed to know, had ever needed to know, that this was meant to be.

We exchanged rings, but even that was mainly for show as they were already ours; She had a small sapphire ring, which also covered the blue part of the “…something borrowed, something blue” tradition and I used my late father’s signet ring, a small way of including him in a day I wish he could have been there for.

And of course, The Kiss.

Then it was time to sign the register and pose for photos, (thank you again to Becca for doubling as wedding photographer for the day) after which the nice lady who recorded our wedding asked if she could read an Irish marriage blessing, which was very poetic and rather sweet.

The whole thing took barely fifteen minutes.
Next thing was to organise the reception, so friends and family that She had yet to meet could come and celebrate with us.

But first, I really thought it was about time I took my wife for a drink.

Cheers.

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Journey’s end?

imageWhatever the future holds, I will always be grateful to Her for these last few months, for the uniqueness of our courtship.

She has been a constant source of strength and happiness to me through all the yoyoing emotions, the anger and frustration at official obstruction and various, barely-avoided financial disasters. The resolve and calm She has shown in the face of difficulties that at times seemed about to derail our plans, has helped keep the Voices in the Dark quiet (most of the time).

But it’s the powerful force of Her love for me, our love for each other, that I’m most grateful for.
I honestly believe that anyone with anything less than the total love for another person, that instant and complete connection that She and I shared from the moment that the Universe chose to give our paths a nudge, I believe they would have given in to despair long ago and never found the happiness they deserved.

One summer’s evening, in the early part of our journey of discovery, we were discussing (with a kind of wide-eyed wonder that I still feel today) what possible reason there could have been for me to so suddenly recognise Her for who She now so obviously was; My One. My Other Half.

Would we have been just as happy if we’d met by chance twenty years ago?
If my parents had moved to America when I was a kid, could we have been childhood sweethearts?
It seems not, no.

When I asked Her;
“How is it that I’ve known you for nearly three years and I’ve only recently realised how gorgeous you are, how strongly I feel about you?”
Her answer, delivered with the beautiful, serene smile I’ve come to so adore, was simply this;
“Because it wasn’t time.”

That was it.
The Universe had not yet decided that it was time for us to be together.
Maybe It was waiting for us to need, as well as want each other, but for whatever reason, It decided to allow us to see who we were to each other and I’ve felt it more strongly every day since.

It was this complete devotion and commitment to our relationship, right from the very start, that made up for any minor inconveniences like mere geography, timezones, video delay and the terrible loneliness of a long distance love affair.
It was knowing.
And that’s what kept me sane during the wait for a decision on Her application.

We had no communication from them for over a week and She had already decided by Saturday night to e-mail them on the Monday (this was the end of October) to get a progress report.

Then I got a message from Her on Sunday morning;
– I just sent you an email.
I hurriedly checked my inbox, my heart rate suddenly doubled, and found….
The world’s vaguest email:

“I understand that you have enquired as to the progress of your visa application. I have tracked the application and I can tell you that a decision has been made.
Your documents will be returned to you in…..blah blah blah”

Wait, wait, back up there a minute!
“…a decision has been made…” ?!?
What bloody decision, you sadistic bastards?!

I rang Her immediately;
“What does it mean? What does it mean?”
“I’m not sure, I woke up at three this morning and it was there. I didn’t understand it so I left it until I got up. It doesn’t tell us anything does it?”
Meanwhile, I’d read it again
“Hang on, hang on, the very last line in the final paragraph; “We strongly advise against booking pre paid travel or accommodation prior to receiving the visa”   “…RECEIVING THE VISA!” That must mean you’ve got it. It has to, surely!?”
There was a pause while She re-read the email;
“Yes, you could read it like that couldn’t you”

There followed a certain amount of excitable conversation, Her rushing upstairs to show Her friend, who read it exactly the same way as I had, and me jumping up and down in our living room, crying, laughing and taking huge shuddering gulps of air in case I passed out from relief, excitement, emotional exhaustion or all three.

I stared at Her grinning face on the little screen, heard Her delighted laughter and then She said the words I had waited so long to hear;
“We’re coming home darling.”