I met this guy 7 years ago at a hotel in Boston. Me from Vancouver, him from Belgium. We were in Boston for a conference, and happened to be staying at the same hotel in the middle of nowhere. We shared a taxi and said hello a couple times in the lobby. The next year, in Washington, DC, we spent the day together at the end of a week of conference, working on technical documentation with a group of other attendees. He helped me with all my technical questions so I could update some documentation - I'm pretty sure he didn't get much done with all my interrupting. I'm pretty sure he didn't really mind.
If you can believe it, I actually have a journal entry about the conference from that day, and it mentions this cute guy from Belgium and how it was too bad he lived so far away. How crazy is that?! I didn't (re)discover it until years later when we were compiling info for his residence application, and couldn't believe how foretelling it was.
We didn't see each other for another year and a half after that - this time in Copenhagen. This time we talked more, we said we should hang out before the week was over. This time we had tea his last night in the city, and that's where it all really began. Eight months later, exactly four years ago today, Bruno came to Vancouver, and although it was "temporary" at first, we knew pretty quickly we didn't want to spend another day apart. He began the process of making temporary into permanent, and we started to build our life together.
Of course, everything has not gone as planned. When we started dating, I was still working as a project manager, still Drupal Documentation co-lead, able to travel (albeit with some difficulty), and still a perfectionist go-getter. I wasn't well when he moved here, and things continued to steadily decline, until a year after he moved here, I left my job and became significantly more unwell. Things have been a struggle most days since then, and though it took us a while to figure out how to cope with it as a couple, we've come a long way both as individuals and together.
I could never have known when we first met what surprises, both good and bad, the coming months and years would hold. And I could also never have known how amazingly Bruno would rise to the challenge - not only of totally uprooting his life and relocating to a different country, but also of being the primary and often sole support of a chronically ill partner. And somehow, we've found ourselves not only able to cope, but to be happy. I like to think I would have found a way to get through all of this without him, but I'm glad I didn't have to.
If you'd asked me five years ago if I'd have someone to say this about today, I would have been doubtful. But this guy... he's been my hero on numerous occasions. He's taken care of me and helped me learn how to actually accept a level of love and care that I didn't even know how to accept before. He's taken me to countless doctor's appointments and tests... He learned how to cook me chicken, and has cooked me so many chickens (sorry chickens!) to keep me from withering away when it's been the only thing I could eat and I was too weak to cook for myself. He's held my hand, and made me laugh, and been my reassuring rock through the hardest time of my life. And, he's done it virtually all by himself. That part is sad, and complicated, but he's faced an unfair and difficult situation with me and risen to the occasion with grace and strength.
And humour. This guy... he makes me laugh every day, and it's such good medicine.
This face! This face is what keeps me going on the days where I'm no longer sure I have it in me.
It's hard not to smile when I see this face. It's hard to give up hope when someone is willing to support you through something neither of you would ever have asked for. When someone is willing to take a chance and give up SO MUCH to be with you and build a life together, even when it's fraught with uncertainty.
The past four years have gone by so fast... and unfortunately, lots of it is just a blur to me. But despite the challenges, I can say that more days have been happy than not, and this guy is the reason for it. I don't think either of us really knew if we'd ever find this - this love thing. But here we are, this year we'll both turn 35. And though many things might not be ideal, we are so lucky to be facing it all together and appreciating all the little things that we can.
All this to say, I am so grateful.
Thanks, my love, for taking a chance on a tiny girl who lived very far away. You've helped change my life in big ways, and every single day you make it a happier more peaceful place to be.