Cat on the road

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It all started from that cat. It was sitting on the road, as if waiting and staring at me. I could see the light reflecting from its eyes, just for a split second, and then it was gone.

We had been walking on a beach earlier that day, the family day out. Charlie wasn’t feeling well, he had a cold coming on. He seemed distant too, lost in thoughts. We decided to stay and eat in a local restaurant and it got dark before we finished. I offered to drive so he could rest although I still wasn’t used to his new car. It was too fast and sporty for me, his dream BMW.

We got stuck behind a slow driver and eventually got an opportunity to overtake. I never liked this manoeuvre, thankfully the car accelerated quickly. I changed the lane and pushed on the gas pedal. No problem. I went back to my lane and then it was there, sitting in the middle of the road.

There was no way I could have stopped, I barely had time to notice it at all before I heard an impact. It was quite loud and the children got frightened – “What was that?!”“A branch on the road” I answered quickly, happy it came to my mind. Then we didn’t say anything for a while until Charlie asked “Are you ok?”, “No” I said.

I had never killed an animal on the road before and was hoping it would never happen. When I got my driving licence I prayed for safe driving, for myself, other people with me and even the animals. As a child I got very upset seeing them dead at the side of the roads. We always prayed at the start of the journey too and so far it worked. So why now? I couldn’t stop thinking there was something more to it than just an accident.

When we came home I hugged my cat for a long time and kept saying “I’m so sorry kitty”, it felt so awful. When we talked about it later, we agreed it was a strange experience, kind of eerie.

Our Story

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Everyone loves their love story. We feel like it’s special and unique. I love ours.

As we come from two different countries, people regularly ask us how we met. So this is my short version.

We met on a week long student exchange, became a couple on day 3, had known each other for 2 months when Charlie changed his plans to work in Italy to follow me to my country so I could finish my studies, we got engaged after a year, got married after 2 and got pregnant with our first baby on our first wedding anniversary.

After my graduation we moved back to Ireland to work and to become the third generation in his family practice, had more children, a cat, a dog, a couple of rabbits and we stayed in love throughout all the ups and downs of growing up together to become more mature parents and owners.

I love the fact that we wouldn’t have met if things had always gone the way we wanted. I got my place at the exchange only because I failed my first exam to study architecture and had to take a year out to do other things and while I was at it I met a friend who got me involved in the exchange 2 years later and then she took the famous photo of our first kiss.

On the other hand, Charlie was there because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life when he finished his high school and took a year out to travel and do some voluntary work and when he finally figured it out and got back home, there was only one university available to him. We met the day after he had submitted his final project.

We were both single at the time but I had just got out of a long term relationship a couple of months before that. It seemed like a crazy idea to start dating again with someone from so far away but I decided that even if it was going to be just a summer fling it was worth it. We walked into it with an open mind and took it a day at a time at first, then fell deeper and deeper in love and started to adjust our life plans to fit the other person into it.

I was surprised to see my parents reaction when I first brought Charlie home. They loved him instantly and he quickly became another family member. During the first year, we spent most of the time together although I was still studying and Charlie started working. By the time February came I knew I wanted to spend my life with him. It was a leap year and I briefly entertained a thought of suggesting marriage to him but I was afraid how he’d react. 6 months later he proposed anyway.

We had to be separated for the following 6 months and it broke my heart. I hated being so far away from him. I remember flying back home after a holiday together in Ireland and hating the plane which was bringing me further and further away. Days and weeks seemed to be taking forever before we could be reunited.

We spent Christmas together with family, celebrating our engagement and saying goodbyes before taking off to America for yet another 6 months. We came back just in time to finish the preparations for the wedding.

We drove to Italy for our honeymoon and although we spent most of the time driving, we enjoyed it immensely. We got to see a few towns and cities, and while we were in San Marino the planes crashed into the World Trade Centre. A new era started not only in our life but in the whole world too. I regretted I hadn’t got a chance to see New York before 9/11 especially since we hadn’t been too far from it.

After we were married we lived in my home place until I graduated and then moved to Ireland for better job prospects. I was already 5 months pregnant with our first child when we took all we had (which wasn’t much at that stage) and bought a one way ticket to our new home.

Over the next 5 years our family expanded. Life got busy and I had to put my career on hold. Children took over my attention, time and all my energy. I didn’t complain because we never lacked anything. We were all healthy and even though one salary wasn’t a lot for all of us plus the mortgage, we always had enough. And yet, there were times when I would feel heavy in my heart and say to myself -“There must be more to life then this”. I missed home, my people, I missed being busy with something other than cleaning the house, cooking and looking after the kids. I just felt I wasn’t myself, wasn’t reaching my potential. Looking back I know I must have been somewhat depressed, as there were physical symptoms as well, like pain and fatigue. But I didn’t look for help and rather blamed myself and tried to cope better. I was going up and down and never knew when I would arrive at the next bend.

We were a part of a lovely church and prayer helped and sustained me. When our youngest went to school I returned to work but it wasn’t easy either. I never felt part of the office and was so far behind everyone that every day seemed like my first day at work. I couldn’t work full time because of school holidays and various, unexpected children’s illnesses which resulted in never being able to progress too far. So I clocked in as many hours as I could and hoped that with time it would get easier.

In the end I was where I wanted to be – working with my husband in “our” office. Only it didn’t feel like ours and I often felt more like a nuisance because of my lack of experience than an actual help.

But at least I had our family, our love and our marriage and no one could take that from me.

Why Bloomsday?

This is the beginning of our story…

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Today is Bloomsday, 16th of June.

If you are Irish or happen to be a fan of the famous Irish writer James Joyce you surely know what Bloomsday is. If you are none of these – let me explain.

James Joyce’s novel Ulysses tells a story of one day in a man’s life – he’s called Leopold Bloom – and to be precise it’s set on the 16th of June. The book is quite long, hard to believe it describes just one day, but I suppose a lot can happen in 24 hours.

That date was chosen by the author on purpose. It had a meaning to him as it was also the day of his first date with his wife-to-be, Nora. He had only met her a couple days earlier.

That date also has a meaning for me and Charlie, my husband. It’s our anniversary. Not our wedding anniversary but the actual day we began dating, or as he likes to call it – “when we became an ‘item’”. The day of our first kiss, an innocent one, on the cheek. It was staged by my friend who wanted to take a picture of a red wall with lovely hanging baskets, like many you might see in South England. We were the only live models at hand so she just ordered us to kiss and took that picture. We had met a few days earlier, I was visiting a place where he studied, for a little less than a week.

Today it stands framed among our other pictures on the mantelpiece at home. I wondered so many times looking at it, how amazing it is that this moment was captured. It was as if someone waved a magic wand over us and we have been drawn towards each other ever since.

It was this moment that started our life long journey together. It started a story where tears mix with laughter and sorrows mix with joy. The story of love and … no, not hate, let’s say forgiveness. The story of life.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, Charlie’s email address at the time was… Ulysses.