He is my best friend; there are so many clichés to describe Luke. He is kind-hearted, loyal and selfless; he is my rock.
We met working in an insurance call centre when I was 17. He was the systems administrator for the whole company, and I’d often see him walking the floors to check on people’s computers; he was always proactive when it came to problem solving. The first time I met him properly I was enamoured by his long, curled blonde eyelashes and his unkempt mop of short-but-curly fair hair. He struck me as something of a lamb; it seemed there was something gentle and innocent about him.
I didn’t know how to properly introduce myself to him. I was nervous; I wanted to say hi but I was too timid (very out of character for me but I was crushing, hard!). One day, as I saw him coming up the office towards where I sat, I was struck by inspiration – I kicked the power cable out of my machine and voila, an instant need for technical assistance. I must have seemed so dim when I called him over and explained that ‘the power just cut out’; I can’t imagine what he thought of me when he saw it was just a cable issue. But that was it, we had officially met. Neither of us really knew the potential we had before us.
From there on, we begun spending all our free time together. We weren’t a couple, not dating, but I suppose you could call it an almost-traditional courtship. Summer lunches were spent in the park listening to music on his headphones. After work, we’d pop to the pub for a couple of drinks before getting the train together; each of us going to our respective family homes. It was a lovely summer, and I was so happy I’d made such a good friend, but I still wanted more – I wanted to kiss this wonderful man and make him my boyfriend.
It was September when we finally started making progress on becoming more than great mates. I now know that he was too shy to ask me on a proper date. Instead he let me barrel my way into his plans; he knew me well enough to know I’d take the bait. After work one Friday he told me, ever so casually, that he was going alone to London the next day; being who I am I instantly invited myself (something along the lines of “I’ll come and keep you company”). We made plans to meet on the train; I was so excited that we were finally doing something together outside of the sphere of work and work-related socialising.
We kissed for the first time that Saturday. It was such an innocent kiss; it began as a hug that turned into a cuddle and when I turned my face up to look at him from my spot under his shoulder he moved down for the first kiss. I still have butterflies thinking about it. It was unutterably perfect.
It was a month later that I moved into his family’s homes. His mum and dad had been divorced a few years earlier and Luke split his time between their houses. I wasn’t getting on with my mum at home and he invited me to stay one night that turned into two and three; before long I was spending all week with him at his parents’. It was the first indication of the generosity that is inherent in his family; they probably would’ve kept us on forever but we made the decision to look for our own place together.
We married in December 2011 – I was 22 and he was 24. No one told us we were too young to take such a big step; I think everyone knew we were made for each other. It was the best day of my life (how clichéd but so true!). I didn’t feel nervous on the day – I just wanted to get to the front of the church to finally solemnise our relationship in front of people who loved us. Walking down the aisle I remember looking around and seeing so many smiling faces; then I looked to the front and saw Luke absolutely beaming at me. It was amazing; the ceremony passed in a happy blur and the reception was exactly what we had planned; we’d arranged afternoon tea for our guests and a live band to play all the songs we’d danced to in the pub when we were first getting to know each other.
I look back on that happiest day now and still smile, despite the turmoil that we didn’t know was about to hit our lives together. From around January, I began to get unwell as I’ve written about a lot on this site. By May I was in the depths of a major psychotic episode and I know, with hindsight, it was a dark time. My husband – my wonderful husband – stood by me, even when I wasn’t letting him in on the reality I was living, even when I yelled at him for not understanding, even when I printed him off a booklet of my psychotic writings. Throughout the whole thing he remained strong and stood right by my side through appointments and referrals; he was my advocate and provided a voice I couldn’t find for myself.
The last three years have been a mix of highs and lows. Without stumbling, he’s been there with me on emergency trips to hospital and stroked my hair as I’ve hidden myself in the bedroom to sob my heart out. When I’ve been high, he’s been the first to help me divert energy with suggestions of ‘do some baking’ or ‘shall we go for a walk?’ Throughout the darkest, hardest times, I’ve always had the safety net of my husband’s love to fall back on.
I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him in my life; I never want to find out. So, my love, this is my tribute to you and my promise of love for the rest of our days on Earth.