When our child was born, I never thought for a second our relationship would break down. That one day we’d have to talk about co-parenting and managing the complexities of childcare when you’re barely speaking to one another. Adjusting to life after the divorce was awful, but not seeing my son everyday was the hardest part. In time, the dust settled, we both found ways to be kinder to each other; more supportive. Life got easier. We found our way to make it work. We’ve both moved on now, our lives are happier for that. We realise now that we’re better friends and parents apart then we ever were together. Our son is raised with love, understanding and appreciation and not by the hands of warring parents.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just finished my final uni exam and couldn’t wait to finally see my friends and family after what felt like an eternity of a term. Little did I know that this day was going to shape my next 6 months. The exam went amazingly, and I couldn’t wait to get started with my career, the career that had to be put on hold.
As I was on my way to my parents house after that exam, all I remember is a speeding car coming towards me like a bullet. It may as well have been one. All that I recall following the turn of events was flashing lights, sirens and other drivers swarming around me like I was an attraction. In what felt like a blink of an eye, I was cooped up in a hospital bed ready to be taken into surgery as my spinal cord was severely fractured. From the outset, I just had to remain positive and after 2 weeks of staring at the hospital ceiling, I was finally able to sit up and speak to my friends and family with more ease. That’s when I knew I was making progress and could start to get my life back on track. It’s been a long road to recovery, but inspired by those who literally helped me get back on my feet, I decided to retrain as an occupational therapist, specialising in helping those who have experienced extreme trauma.
I was absolutely convinced that our love would last forever. Evan was unlike anyone I had dated before – he was my biggest support and best friend. We had the strongest connection and always had the best fun whenever we were together. Two years later we both went off to uni, utterly convinced that the distance between us wouldn’t ruin what we had. But something had shifted, Evan didn’t feel the same. We loved each other too much to lose our friendship, so we stayed in touch. Six weeks later, Evan told me why he ended things – he’d met someone he loved, a lad called David, and wanted to be honest with me. It took so much for him to say it, to tell me what was really happening and the confusion he was feeling. I loved him for that. He remains one of my closest friends, so I guess I was right in the end – our love will last forever.
We thought our road to parenthood was going to be easy. We were both young, fit and ready to be parents. In the space of two years, we’d suffered 3 miscarriages and were given the heartbreaking news that we would never conceive naturally. It was easily one of the most devastating times of our lives. We qualified for IVF, and were hopeful that our luck would change. Two months before we were due to start treatment, something wonderful happened. Nine months later, Gracie Elizabeth Standwell came kicking and screaming into the world at 6:41am, Thursday, March 29th 2018. Our precious little miracle… our funny little sleep thief.
I had just finished my time at Whitefield College and met up with my friend at the local Woodthorpe pub to have a chinwag over some food. It was my turn to get the rounds in and little did I know I was going to find my lover of 40 years. With constant eye contact, we had an immediate connection – one would even go as far to say it was love at first sight! Every time I asked for something off the menu, he was creating a new strand of conversation, remaining sarcastic yet flirtatious at the same time.
After 5 minutes of constant conversation at the bar, I sat back down at the table, stared at my friend and just said “I think I’ve just met the one…”. I was just as confused as her. It was a case of ‘when you know, you know!’. Little did I realise this was just the start of something that would last a lifetime.
Fast forward a couple of months, and me and Mark were now official, overhauling our weeks with a continuous cycle of dates and drinks. He even took me to Manchester if he managed to cash in on the tips from the shifts he was still working at the pub. We got engaged 9 months later, and married 4 months after that – it was truly a whirlwind. What I have realised, though, is that my love for him hasn’t changed one bit.
We’re now close to celebrating 41 years together, and we’re still just as close as we were on those dates in 1979 (although, I’ve noticed that the nice trips to Manchester have definitely taken a dip over the years!).
It was a really warm night. The bedroom was stifling, so I lay on top of the covers with the window open, watching TV. There was the weirdest sound. I remember thinking it sounded so far away but it had to be something significant for it to be that loud. Scrolling through Facebook there were comment after comment “Did anyone else hear that?”… “What’s going on?”… “Something’s happened in Manchester”.
Then the footage came, the shout-outs for people looking for someone, the posts from hotels opening their doors for the injured and lost. This was stomach churning, devastating and real. It was on our doorstep and you just knew this was going to affect our city forever.
I wear my Manchester Bee with pride; its image is displayed in my house, and its print is on the bumper of my car. The injured, the lost and the families left behind will never be forgotten… “Because this is a place where we stand strong together. With a smile on our face, Mancunians Forever.”