For the last 6 years, I’ve only referred to my wife here as MW. My cack-handed way of trying to offer her some kind of protection. Safety in anonymity, that sort of thing. Given the prognosis, I don’t think it’s fair to continue referring to her as MW. She deserves to be called by her name.
Her name is Trisha. We met in York and we’ve been together for nearly 16 years. First, we saw each other on the sly, she was married. Her relationship was violent but she said she felt stuck in it. Once she’d made sure I meant what I said when I told her I wanted to be with her (it took a lot of telling but it was worth it), she left her husband (no small feat but it didn’t end up being the morass we’d both feared – it could have gone horribly badly) and we found a little flat above a hairdressers that was our home until about a year after she was diagnosed and she could no longer manage the stairs.
A couple of years before Trisha was diagnosed, we went on holiday. A two-week Caribbean cruise that took in some of the areas that have been hit recently by Hurricanes Irma, José and Maria. I remember Antigua most of all. We’d been on a sightseeing tour of the island and we’d been taken to a market area afterwards. A stall was selling the brightest sun dresses and Trisha had her eye on a couple of them – one white, one yellow. For some reason, I had all our cash on me (insert something about the patriarchy here). Trisha wanted to buy these dresses and was explaining to the stall owner that her boyfriend was away taking photos of something or other.
I was enjoying looking out to sea and just generally feeling relaxed and content when I heard the stall owner shouting. She was pretty bloody loud, but she wasn’t shouting in anger and I wasn’t expecting her to be shouting me, so I didn’t pay much attention.
“Simon! SIMON! SIMON, WHERE ARE YOU? TRISH NEEDS YOU!!”
Embarrassed (mostly because the owner probably thought I was some kind of control freak), I ran over and gave Trisha the wad of cash, apologising profusely. She bought them both and still has them. Even now, we smile together as we remember that holiday and the woman shouting, “TRISH NEEDS YOU!!”. Funny how some words stick in your mind, and how they gain meaning as time goes on.