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Cancer and other stuff

Getting spliced

I’m not sure how many people read this blog via Facebook or Twitter – the majority I would have thought – so you probably know we got married on Friday in Gretna Green. We told our family and some of our friends in advance so we didn’t exactly do a runner in the history of what Gretna Green is famous for, with our parents hot on our heels, but it was pretty romantic in a way neither of us expected it would be. Having done the legal bit this way, we now realise it was totally perfect for us and we can get on with planning September as normal – with some of the pressure off.

Before we got engaged, we talked about how we’d like to just go off somewhere quietly on our own. Then we get engaged and immediately I morph into some kind of wild Bridezilla (I know, I know, I promised this would never happen but it’s really hard not to!). The venue gets booked, expensive dresses get ordered, lists are drawn up and before you know it, we’re planning to get wed in front of 120-odd people and discussing canapés with the caterer. Wedding fever hits, everyone’s happy, including us.

Then Ellie dies, two weeks before the wedding she and Tom had planned so beautifully for the best part of a year, the wedding she was so excited about, and for a couple of weeks, nothing makes sense any more. Neither of us can face wedding talk, every time I look at my to-do list, I just feel sick and weepy, with what I now recognise as some kind of survivor’s guilt mixed with grief for the beautiful girl I came to identify so much with in a short space of time. Every time I thought “wedding” I just hated everything about it, which isn’t right. I just couldn’t believe life would be that cruel, how could that have possibly happened? Why? What follows is a period of deep reflection and analysis. What if that happened to us? What IS it we actually want? What’s important to us? And we quickly remember that all we really want is to be married, so why are we waiting and making a big spectacle about something which – for us – is a private, personal thing involving just the two of us?

So it’s off to Gretna Green. You have to give a minimum 15 days notice of your intention to marry up there then you can tie the knot any time after that. We arranged all this at the end of May, let a few people in on the secret and started counting down the days from there. Every day, I’d warn Andy to take care crossing the road, I stayed off my bike for a bit, I was almost manic with fear that something would happen to either of us.

Finally the clock-watching is over and Friday rolls around. Between us we pack a rucksack and dart off to Euston to catch the train. We arrive at Carlisle later than planned, miss our connection so spend a couple of giddy hours in the pub waiting for the next train. We finally get to Gretna Green with an hour to spare. Dump our bag, quick change, put some slap on and head up to the old blacksmith’s shop, where runaways have been married over the anvil since 1754. At 5pm, with tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats,
with just two random strangers who happened to be wandering round the gift shop as witnesses, we vow to love and care for each other, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death us do part. And immediately the pressure we’ve almost been suffocating under disappears and we stand in front of each other as husband and wife. We did it, we made it.

Under ‘normal’ circumstances, it maybe wouldn’t have been like this. But our relationship has been built and nurtured
under very abnormal circumstances right from the start. From our very first date we’ve known this and we’ve made it work in spite of this. We made it clear that we wanted to do this alone and our family and friends respected our wishes and let us slip off quietly. ‘Normal’ couples don’t have to live with what we do and we now recognise that making those vows in front of a church full
of people wouldn’t have been the right thing for us. It was too personal to share. That’s not to say we don’t love our families and friends to bits – we do – but this was absolutely the right thing to do. We hope you understand that. As for Ellie, I know she would have approved.

So now we’re back to real life and finally we can start looking forward to September instead of dreading it, and panicking that one of us wouldn’t make it to that date (Andy is not immortal either, he cycles enough for me to worry he’ll get squished by a lorry). We just couldn’t live like that for the next three months. We have enough to deal with without that. We’re REALLY excited about September, when our marriage will be celebrated and blessed in front of all our family and friends. The party will be immense, and the whole day becomes one big celebration of love for everyone involved. It’s not *just* about us, it’s about everyone there too. We still feel September will be “the wedding” – the dress, the booze, the music, the “isn’t it amazing being in love?”, it’s just the legal marriage has already happened. I said in my last blog how vital it is to make the most of every second and not have any regrets and for once I went with my own gut instinct and didn’t bother trying to please everyone else. There is absolutely nothing I regret about Friday, it was magical in every way and to become Mrs Marvell is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

So we will see you all in September for the most beautiful day ever when undoubtedly I will spend most of it in tears, happy ones. And perhaps a bit drunk on the very good wine Andy is flitting off to France to buy this weekend. The food has been chosen, the canapés are in development, our bands are practising, the playlists are being drawn up. We can’t wait to see you and look forward to sharing a toast to love, happiness and of course, to Ellie & Tom.

Lots of love Mr & Mrs Marvell (it will NEVER get boring writing that) xx

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