Gordon and Evie had what would easily pass for a normal,
modern-day relationship. They both worked, had two kids, went to the theatre,
dinner parties and lived a life as full as possible. Unlike many modern couples
however, they met when they were young and married within a year. By their
early 20s they had a mortgage, two kids and all the worries and responsibility
that come with that.
But they balanced it well the kids were polite,
well-behaved and did well at school. Both Gordon and Evie excelled in their
professions Gordon as a GP and Evie as a social worker. And they still
found time to see those friends, to attend those dinner parties and see those
plays. Through it all and through the years, they worked hard at maintaining
the love that had brought them together in the first place but understandably,
they had less and less time for romance, for sitting and talking, for looking
at each other, for stopping. The love was still there but its expression had
been buried by the kids, the careers and the community. And Gordon particularly
missed that part of their lives. Evie did too, deep down, but day to day she
was too preoccupied by getting the kids dressed and to school before getting
herself to work and juggling the busy social calendar she was determined to
have, to notice that Gordon wasnt as happy as hed once been.
Gordon did his share in the house and with the kids and he
too enjoyed his career and the couples social life but for him, the
priority, the thing he loved most, was Evie. He knew now, 12 years after they
first met, he was down the list of priorities for Evie. But every now and then,
he would see a flash in her, a moment of tenderness that told him she too
remembered those early days when it was just them in Gordons small flat
talking about what their future would look like and how rich their lives would
be. Those days of hope and planning. Those days when he felt her love every
day, when she showed she cared. Those days before she was too busy with life to
notice Gordons quiet desperation for the love he once felt.
This is not an unusual set of circumstances. Look at any
modern family and you will find, if not exact, similar situations. The
pressures of modern life break the ties between couples who do still love each
other, somewhere, but no longer have the time to show it. But something
happened between Gordon and Evie to change all that, something that makes their
story very, very different to the millions of others replicated like
photocopies across this grey island. Such is the uniqueness of what happened
between these two, that only Gordon can really tell us what happened. Besides,
Evie is not in a position to do so.
Evie and I have been together for over 12 years now and I still
love her as much as I did when we first met. But as you probably know yourself,
life gets in the way of romance and as it develops, it leaves less and less
room for couples, for those moments that make you stop and realise just how
lucky you are.
To be honest, even though I saw her every day and we shared a
bed, I missed Evie. Even when we made love, she seemed distracted, elsewhere. I
missed those intense moments of intimacy that we once shared when it felt we
were alone in the world: music playing softly in the background, feeling each
others warmth, the sound of her breathing, the light tickle of it on my
chest, the softness and firmness of her skin, feeling her smile as I ran my
hand down her belly.
I love everything about our life our independence, our
kids, our social life but I miss those moments of tenderness, when we seemed to
melt into each other and nothing but that moment, those touches, mattered. I
missed that most of all. But, you know, we grow older, more mature and
realistic and day to day life gradually takes over unseen, like ivy. Before you
know it, life has stifled what was so precious to you and is so all
encompassing, that it seems it is impossible to go back to what it once was.
And so our relationship, which was once two people living in but
not belonging to the rest of the world, was now so enmeshed with reality that
it was a relationship in name and concept only. The kids, obviously, come
first. I love them with all my heart and they were always part of the plan when
Evie and I imagined our future but you never really appreciate just how much
they are going to change your life until they have arrived. They are though,
the most beautiful kids and, after Evie, the most precious things in my life.
Then theres work. I enjoy my job Im the local
GP and it sounds clichéd but it really is rewarding. The local community
relies on me to get them through the illnesses that we all experience. But it
does take up a lot of my free time which I resent but you know, you have to
make sacrifices to get on in life but I seem to be making more and more
sacrifices for work as the years go by. I keep telling myself Im going to
correct it but never seem to get round to it.
And our social life. Its great. We have a wide circle of
friends who we see regularly whether that is at dinner parties or out at the
theatre and again, that was part of the plan when we imagined our future
to maintain a social life and not let the kids commandeer our lives. We both
love it but its more time that Evie and I dont have together, alone.
Sometimes I think she doesnt need me anymore. She has her
kids, her job and her friends and I seem to have slipped down the priority
list. I think she takes me for granted but not in a bad way. Just that she
knows Ill always be there and would never leave her so perhaps she
doesnt feel the need to maintain that part of her life so much? I
dont know but although Im with her every day, I miss her. I miss my
wife. I miss my lover. I miss Evie.
Ironically, things started to get better when she took ill
earlier on this year about six months ago. The doctors werent sure
what it was but she was confined to bed, vomiting, high fever and delirium but
there were brief moments of clarity. She had good days and bad but was almost
totally helpless. She needed to be fed, needed a bedpan and needed to be
washed. The doctors recommended she be taken in to care but I refused I
wanted Evie at home where she belonged, where I could take care of her and as
doctor myself, they were happy to let me do so.
She needed full time care so I took a sabbatical from work for
six months. At first it was difficult taking care of her as we didnt know
for sure what was wrong with her. The best me and the other doctors could come
up with was that it was a virus, and they tried all sorts of antibiotics and
suchlike to try to shift it but to no avail. So all I could do was help her
eat, keep her clean and try to make her as comfortable as possible. It was hard
work and painful to watch her like that but in a way it was nice because she
needed me again. I was her only access to the outside world I would read
the newspapers to her, put the TV and radio on for her depending on her mood
and I was the one who fed her and kept her clean. She was helpless without me
and I must confess it did feel good. I felt a little guilty about it but in the
end theres nothing wrong with feeling proud that your wife needs you. It
just felt so good to have my Evie back. I would hold her at night and although
weak with sickness, I could feel her love coming through her body and into my
arms. She needed me again and it felt good.
It was about two months into it that Evie started to emerge from
her illness. She was able to sit up in bed, order food and choose for herself
what she wanted to read, listen to or watch. He eyes became clearer, the
vomiting had long since stopped and gradually, she was able to gather enough
strength to get to the toilet herself and to shower.
She improved rapidly to everyones relief. The mystery
illness that had held her in its grip for so long was finally lifting and with
it, her spirits and strength lifted. As the days and weeks went by, Evie began
to once again reassert her authority over the household and she was soon
getting up to make sure the kids were ready for school and was even able to
make their dinner when they got home. She also began to do some work from home,
looking at the cases that would have been referred to her has she not been ill.
Slowly but surely, the Evie that everyone loved, the one that juggled 101
different things at once, was on her way back. The only one who wasnt
delighted was me. As her health improved, her need for me once again
diminished. I was losing her all over again just as I had won her back.
Im not necessarily proud of what Ive done but
Im not sorry that Ive done it. If looked at in the cold light of
day, no court in the land would have sympathy for me but seen through the prism
of our relationship, it makes sense. It does to me anyway. For too many years,
everyone has had the Evie I want the kids, her job, her friends.
Theyve all had her attention, devotion and love while I sat on the
sidelines waiting for her to notice that I was still there. Those short months
when she was ill, Evie was all mine and she needed me as I need her for the
first time in years. I wont deny I enjoyed her illness. Not the fact that
she suffered of course but the fact that once again it was just us in a room,
music in the background, the touch of her skin against mine and her soft
breathing. I need her to need me otherwise I just go through the motions. When
she was sick, I felt alive again but as her health improved, I was increasingly
shut out in favour of the rest of her life and once again I was in the shadows,
waiting to be noticed.
Evie recently had a relapse. Shes bedridden again and once
again she needs me. She needs me to bathe her, to tend to her every need and to
feed her. But I took the decision for Evie to relapse. I took the decision to
have her back so I dose her meals with medicines I take from work
to keep her incapacitated. No-one questions her symptoms anymore she was
ill before and no-one could diagnose her and they know I tend to her well. I
was the one who nursed her out of it in the first place wasnt I? And
anyway, they trust me. Im the local GP and everyone knows how much I love
my Evie. I just dont think they realise how far I would go to have that
I know I cant keep this up indefinitely and that constant
use of my medicines will do her more harm but I reckon that with
periodic recoveries and lapses, I can at least have my Evie all to myself some
of the time without causing too much damage. Ive reclaimed my wife and
Ive reclaimed her on my terms. The rest of the world has had their time.
Now its mine.