Love to some is destiny, to others fate; to those who chase it, they says it's elusive; to those who hope, it's a dream; for some, it's a need.
While for others, a beautiful, true love, it's a choice..
I was one of those who believed that love is a choice and we weave our own destiny by the choices we make.
Our story is somewhat influenced by fate, destiny and choices.
We met through a dating website called connectingsingles.com. I was a private nurse in one of the family in UAE that time, was broken-hearted from a one year relationship with a guy who's bound by family and tradition.
I decided to go online just to keep myself busy and occupied to heal a broken heart.
On the other end of the world was a man who's tired of his routinely life. He was independent, working everyday and he's thinking "what for"?
That same night he went out for a few pints with a mate who suggested that he should try to go online dating just for a chance of meeting the right girl for him. Mark that night signed up in the same dating site.
As I scroll on my messages a day after that, one message from a certain Mark said:
"Hi, can you be my friend?"
Curious of what he was like, I read his profile. He was 36,( I said to myself he is mature enough to understand my immaturity if ever we end up together). He works as a public servant in the department of social protection, adventurous, loves music and just wanted an honest woman to be in a relationship with.
At the end of the narrative was something that struck the most.
It says: "I AM BLIND".
At first I was amazed on how honest he is. At the back of my mind I was thinking, it could be just a trick just to find the right girl for him, to test girls if disability matters or not.
Out of curiosity I replied and said I do hope he is as honest as the woman he wanted to meet and gave him my number since that week I was supposed to go back home to the Philippines to be away from my patient's son who wanted me to be his third wife. A third wife who could take care of the whole family.
To cut the story short, I went back home. Never heard from him but after a week home I received a call from an unknown number and at the end of the line was a nervous male voice.
He introduced himself and from then on called every Monday to Friday and sometimes on Sundays as well.
I learnt that he was living alone renting a house for himself and just go to his family home every weekend and thus the doubt of him being blind was there.
Nevertheless our long distance relationship grew. I started working then as an administrator of a school and was happy with what I was doing, and then, he said, with both our hearts probably beating so fast:
"I wanted to meet you in person"...
There were doubts and apprehension but after one and a half year of being in a long distance relationship, we thought it might be enough to make it seriously this time.
We're at last taking a step further.
We decided that if we meet each other and doubted that it is not for good we will end the relationship but will still be friends.
The moment we both waited for came October 2013. I told him I will pick him up at the airport and with me was my mom. At first he felt awkward but agreed anyways.
'Twas a day full of worries and doubts, of 'what ifs' on both our sides.
What if he was just testing me?
What if it won't work out?
How will I be able to find him right away?
Or what if he got stranded and miss the plane if he was really blind?
Waiting at the airport felt like the longest day that I ever encountered in my life.
My mom was the first one who spotted him. She told me "there he is!"
Then a man with a cane accompanied by an airline worker came out and I knew in my heart he was honest and was telling the truth. All my doubts gone and I just run to him and kissed him and in that first fleeting first kiss we both realised we found each other!
We found our home! Home was in each other's arms, treasuring each other.
He was a handsome man more so in person than in photos.
That 3 weeks of holiday that he spent with us was priceless.
Braving the journey on his own, him totally blind shows how much he truly loves me and respect me to meet my parents and explore where I came from. We spent our days together enjoying the company of my family. One of the most awkward moment that we both have was when I introduced him to my grandmother.
Prior to the introduction he had an accident which is entirely my fault. He fell into the rice paddies on the way to my grandma's house. He badly hurt his knee and twisted his ligaments. But he braved the whole lot because he was going to meet my grandmother and my father was there as well.
I asked him if he was alright and he kept on insisting that he was okay so we went to my grandmother so he can meet her.
My grandma was 87 at that time, I thought I would be the translator and so is my father but to our surprise my grandma spoke to him in English and even told him he could be a spy for she was sure he is not blind but only pretending to be!
He just laughed at the joke. Then out of nowhere my grandma asked him: "What is your plan with my granddaughter? Are you going to marry her and when?"
I saw him turned beet red and I myself was flabbergasted, I don't want him to feel the pressure plus we never talked about it. We wanted to take the step one at a time. But he was able to answer though with "I don't know yet but we will get there".
To anyone it might sound like that he was not sure about our relationship but to me it was a promise and he always keeps his promise. Before he flew back to Ireland I was able to know him more, deeply and meaningfully. He asked me thrice the night before his flight. "Will you marry me?" And my answer were three big YESes.
What they say about distance making the hearts go fonder was true to both of us after that. The constant calls became shorter but longer now on the weekends. He would call me anytime he wants to. He would tell me of his worries and of his dreams and I did the same to him.
Eight months later he came back with a big surprise. He just told me a week before his intended visit. Prepare everything we will have a wedding..that's it! I said with a content heart, HE IS THE ONE!
Now my relatives never knew about me having a steady boyfriend. Never thought I would be married. I even called one of my uncle and he just laughed at me and said "Don't be silly and play a joke on me. How are you going to get married. You don't even have a boyfriend, never mind a groom at that."
But still I insisted they come. Our neighbours didn't know he was blind up to now. I remember one of them teasing my dad about giving Mark too much to drink that he needs the support of a cane. A week before our wedding we went to our pre wedding honeymoon in Caramoan Islands because we knew we won't have enough time to be together.
Three weeks is too short to plan an instant wedding with plenty of papers and things to prepare. Two days before the big day my sister in law surprised us when she flew from Australia to witness our wedding and to show their family's support and approval.
The night before the wedding my uncles and aunts on my father side gathered to talk to us, to know him more. After meeting him they call me on one side and said "Why him? You're intelligent and we can't understand why?" referring to him being blind without directly pointing it out.
I simply answered "I had my reasons and one of them is love".
My parents nevertheless were supportive and their love for my husband was undeniable.
After the the rollercoaster of events, we got married on the 6th of June 2014. Once on the municipal hall with a wedding ring engraved with the 5th instead of the 6th because it was planned to be on the 5th but the papers arrived on the 6th to a judge, and a pool wedding in the resort with the same judge and a pastor.
And finally we were pronounced Mr and Mrs McGonigle. He left the country two days after the wedding. And I have the busiest year that time. Preparing for evaluation of the school and implementation of the new education system and preparing my papers to join my husband.
I was granted the spouse visa December and I have to leave home on the 21st of December that year.
I was of mixed emotions that day, sad to leave my family but happy to join my husband and his family. I was crying and laughing at the same time.
Arriving in Dublin that night, I was full of worry. Worried that I won't be embraced by Ireland nor by my husband's family but lo and behold I was accepted like their own. In the immigration I was only ask by the officer with "who will pick me up" and stamped my passport and said Happy Christmas to you and your family.
Waiting for me was a warm hug from my husband and my father in law. Meeting my mother in law was like coming into the arms of my own mom. They loved me the way I loved them and my first ever Christmas in Ireland was never at all sad but instead was full of love from family.
December 29, 2014 we had our after do, a tradition in Ireland, it's a party after the wedding but ours was another wedding in front of his relation and a priest doing the whole ceremony. A great night full of singing and relations celebrating for us on our married life.They can't contain their happiness for their Mark who was able to find a wife who truly loves him.
I lived with my in laws for 3 months while Mark worked in Longford and looking for a house for us to live in. He work Monday to Friday and came home to Donegal during weekends. Those 3 months with my in laws was a treasure. They are very kind hearted and loving family. they are my blessings.
They say the first 2 years of marriage was the hardest and rockiest. I never have that. Our first year together was one part long distance and half part together. The second year was blessed with a baby boy whom we named Sean Michael. We planned of having another one and will be praying for a girl.
We were planning to go to Spain to enjoy the sun this year and my parents to come and visit us this July. Next year was to visit his brother in New York and his sister in Australia.
We wanted to enjoy life together like it was supposed to be.
For better or worse, in all the good times and the bad. Till we grow old together and still enjoying each other while looking after our grandchildren. To still say I love you without speaking it. To cuddle just before the fire goes out. Is this fate? Is this destiny? No it's a choice that leads to a happy life.
Why? Because it's our choice to love each other, respect and lean on each other. To comfort one other when we're feeling down, to listen and understand. To be open and accept each other flaws, weaknesses, strength and all. To grow together criticising each other without hurting and damaging our feelings. To learn together and develop together. To take the present one at a time, never looking back at the past nor worrying about the future.
Patience is a virtue. For good things happens to those who waits. And believe that God really grants what you need when you pray earnestly like I did before I met my husband.
After all, "true love is out there, for each and everyone, if we choose to find it."
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