"In every living being, there is the desire to love and be loved in return. The strongest and most enduring of all love is the love which is not afraid to show its vulnerability or demonstrate its fragility. When we love, we reflect the best we have to offer and when we fall in love, we more readily recognise ourselves in another.
Finding love is nothing less than emptying life's treasure chest and discovering its most precious jewel at the bottom. I learned very early on in my life that without having someone or something to love in this world, nothing seems to make sense or is born of purpose. Knowing that someone loves you gives you constant strength to do all that requires doing, while loving another gives you the courage to face all that life brings into play.
Love rarely comes into one's life in a blare of trumpets announcing its arrival. It is more likely to sneak up on you when least expected; often making its presence felt after it has landed and taken off again.
When I first met Sheila, I didn't see stars in my eyes. In fact, when I first saw her, I wasn't particularly looking for some woman to be a part of my life again. I'd been hurt and was still emotionally fragile. I sat down next to her and started a polite conversation. She naturally found me interesting enough to carry on talking and secretly looking me over whenever she thought my eyes were elsewhere.
As we fenced around each other’s character traits, looking for areas of compatibility or irreconcilable differences, my prime concern was a physical one. Sheila’s hair was too short in length, too butch in appearance. Given her bone structure of the face, she came across as a woman of extreme beauty who was hiding away her most attractive of features. That thought got me thinking what else she might be hiding.On Sheila’s part, what most concerned her initially was the 14-year age gap between us, especially having been widowed at the early age of fifty.
We can honestly say that it wasn't a love at first sight that bowled either of us over, though there was a strange sense of feeling that touched both of us, a feeling which wouldn't let go when we parted. Only one day apart from that first meeting between us, and we couldn't stop thinking about each other. We each knew that we had met someone who stirred our emotions in such manner that they would never settle again until we next met. It was as if during our first meeting we had invisibly magnetised to each other and were simply unable to draw ourselves apart thereafter.
Unknown to each of us, during that first week after meeting, we fell in love, and we both smiled more secretly and a little softer because we knew it to be so. Coming together effectively demonstrated that new love heals the broken bark of past hurt and bruised emotions.
We instinctively knew that declaring our love for each other after so short a time was undoubtedly brave, if not foolhardy, but we also knew that being loved back in equal measure was so beautiful. It made the risk of declaring our true feelings to the world worth taking.
In the briefest of moments, two imperfect strangers, each one carrying some emotional baggage, suspended all doubt and placed their faith on a higher plane as they dared to reach out for love again.
We dared to love again. We dared to share a love and a life that held a physical, emotional and spiritual dimension; with no part representing more or less importance than the other two. We met in 2010, we married in 2012 and before 2013 arrived, I’d been diagnosed with a terminal blood cancer.What we got was a lifetime's experience compressed into more love and satisfaction than any creature deserves or needs to feel fulfilled.
Having often spoken together about our first meeting, Sheila and I have to acknowledge that for us, love never happened in an instant; that cupid never struck within that first exchange of glances. We learned that love isn't always courageous and bold, and that it sometimes creeps up on you when your emotions are least guarded, and turns your life upside down before you know it's happened.
Our marriage has taught us that love warms all waking moments, lightens the heaviest of burdens, opens wide our capacity to dream and makes all manner of things possible together that we would have struggled to achieve alone.
Though dreams are lost, dreams are not forgotten, and soon we’re back to stern reality. ’Get that tea on woman, your man’s back home!’ ‘Get your own brew, you lazy git. I’ve been out working all day. Just cos’ you retired from your job twenty years ago, doesn’t mean you retired from all responsibility!’ Ah, married life. Who’d be without it?" William Forde: January 10th, 2016.