So March turned into April which turned into May – the month of our wedding. I was still struggling with my recovery but was determined that everything would go smoothly. It was to be a small wedding, just 40 of our closest family and friends to celebrate our special day. On the Monday I woke up with a strange sensation on the right side of my face. Since I was a child I have suffered with recurring shingles on my face but hadn’t had an outbreak for about 4 years. I looked in the mirror and the whole of my right side was red and sore. Cue emergency phone call to the wonderful Dr H and by lunchtime I am stuffing anti-virals into me like a matelot on shore leave. Hopefully by Saturday it will have cleared up enough for Liz to plaster makeup over the worst of the blisters and send me down the aisle. Maybe it is just God’s way of telling me to wear a veil.
So Friday comes around and with a face full of scabs we head off down to the Cotswolds. On arrival at the hotel we are told our room has been changed as someone booked our room in January. Having booked our room (and our wedding) last September I have my one and only (so far) Bridezilla moment. Once the poor girl had composed herself we retire to our (correct) room and open a bottle of vintage champagne and share it with my dear friends John & Iris who had come over from Ireland. After a wonderful meal with them we climb into bed tired but excited. The next morning I am awoken by a phone call from Frank. Liz is very ill and has been in hospital most of the night. He will still be coming to the wedding to do the photography, and will stand in as hairdresser but Liz can’t make it. I am so sad, not just because now the blind woman is in charge of her own makeup but because my Auntie Lizzie won’t be there. I want her there much more as my Aunt than my makeup artist and I know she has bought a fab new outfit. She must feel awful. At breakfast I tell Iris who suggests we just pool our resources and have a go ourselves.
And that’s what we did. Adrian and I go to the little chemist in the high street and buy all the makeup we can find. The shop is rather old fashioned but between the frosted blue eye shadow and the Coffee Shimmer lipstick we find what we need.
Back at the hotel Iris and I tip our makeup bags into the middle of the bed and hope for the best. Frank arrives and starts on my bridesmaid Georgie’s hair – long dark curls – gorgeous, while Iris, Nicky and I try with the slap. Nicky is somehow put in charge of the false eyelashes. After attaching them to me upside-down giving me the look of a Jersey cow with depression, she admits she has never done this before. At that point I order a bottle of champagne and we start again.
In amongst all this Adrian is trying to getting ready and Frank does an amazing job of our hair and the photography and keeping Adrian sane. I told him he just needs to learn how to do flower arranging and he’s a one-man wedding!
From our room we can see everyone arrive in their finery and soon it is time for us to meet with the registrars who are absolutely wonderful. We prove we are neither illegal nor insane (one easier than the other) and the band strikes up “Someone to Watch over Me” which is our cue. We walk towards the chapel door, enter, and see 38 heads turn towards us and with that all 40 of us start to cry.
It was a beautiful service, very poignant, but with some lighter moments too. There were terrific readings by Al from ‘Les Misérables’ and Katie who performed a witty poem which had everyone laughing. The hardest part for us was the vows. We had deliberately not chosen the “in sickness and in health/til death do us part” bit for obvious reasons, but we hadn’t appreciated how difficult the replacement vows would be.
“I promise to care for you with love and friendship and to support and comfort you through good times and through troubled times. I promise to care for you with love and patience, to respect and cherish you and to be faithful always. These promises I make to you for the rest of my life.”
As I said the last line Adrian looked at me and we both had exactly the same thought “however long that is”.
At that point we had to take a break and the registrar handed out tissues, Pauline shouted from the back “Have you got one for me?” The service resumed and we were pronounced husband and wife.After the service we had drinks in the garden and went in to dinner. The six tables were named after the places we went for our first six dates. I joke that as Adrian proposed after five weeks I only really got six dates. Instead of having a top table, Adrian and I moved around, eating one course with each table so that we could spend time with the people we love most in the world. After that there was much jollity, drinking, singing, games and everyone seemed to have a thoroughly good evening. I shall draw a veil over some of the proceedings to protect the guilty. You know who you are.
The next day we headed off on honeymoon to the Caribbean where we spent two idyllic weeks together.
And now it is August and Mr & Mrs Grace are home and real life is the order of the day. I have good days and bad days, days when I can’t get my head off the pillow and days when I feel indestructible and the ‘old’ me again.
My next appointment with the neurosurgeon is in September when hopefully I will understand yet more about what is happening to me and what will happen in the future. I try and remain hopeful and positive but on occasion I fail. When I fall over or mess up my words or forget something simple or drift off in the middle of a conversation I know that Tarquin is still with me, still living, possibly still growing. And there is almost nothing I can do about it. But whatever the future brings, I know I have the love and support of the most wonderful man, one who has lived his vows long before he said them.