Today is the 11th November, 11/11. It was Katie’s lucky number so it was an obvious date to propose to her on.
We were in Barbados, an island I have been lucky enough to visit a few times and have spent a lot of it underwater Scuba Diving various parts of the island. So I had an idea months before arriving and started to plot.
I phoned my friend Phil, the owner of Reefers and Wreckers. Phil is a Rastafarian in his 50’s who loves life and just about everyone he meets. He is a keen runner like me and we would meet early before a dive and go for a run and then have breakfast. Every year I would take over the latest running shoe from England for him as he couldn’t get them on the island and even Rastafarians need to look good running. I realise I am digressing somewhat.
I had actually spoken to Phil 18 months before over breakfast when I was last there about a girl I was in love with who I thought was something extraordinary and although I wasn’t getting the same signals from her I felt there was something destined about us. He told me not to give up and continue to be true to myself and that Jah would do his work. So here I am calling Phil telling him I am coming back to the island with Katie and that I intend to propose and I need his help.
The plan was to spend the week teaching Katie to dive. On the 10th of November Phil and I were going to dive a shallow wreck where we would place a conch shell and inside the conch shell i would place a ring. Just a few feet above inside the wreck was an air pocket, an area 30 feet below the surface where you could take off your mask and mouthpiece and talk. It was there I would ask her to marry me.
Unbeknown to us Cancer was already present in our world and by the time we got to Barbados Katie had developed a persistent cough. She was on her 2nd(possibly 3rd) course of antibiotics but it didn’t seem to be helping. We had agreed that once we were home we would see a specialist.....
Katie still wanted to learn to Scuba Dive. Phil took her out to a shallow bay whilst I sat on the beach nervously watching, wondering if this was going to work. It didn’t! She simply couldn’t get used to it and the cough was interfering with her breathing. They came back out of the water after only 15 minutes. Phil was walking behind Katie, he looked so dejected as he knew what was at stake. I had to smile and play it cool as if it was just one of those things and we could do it another time. Internally I am panicking and I have to find a plan b fast!
Luckily when you are on such a beautiful and romantic island it’s not hard to find options! So I booked a private boat with a crew and on the evening of the 11th we set sail along the west coast of the island. We swam with turtles ate dinner and then sat on the front of the boat as the sun set to our left across the ocean.
I fumbled in my pocket holding the ring. We we sitting together on a giant bean bag. I couldn’t get my words out and to be quite honest I can’t remember exactly what I said but it went something like this..”you know that I have loved you since the moment i met you and the last 14 months have been the happiest of my life, Katie, will you marry me?” I pulled the ring from my pocket.
She replied “what?”.
Seriously? Am I gonna have to say that again!!
But she threw her arms around and kissed me. That was a yes then!
Sitting here this morning it is impossible to fathom that moment was only 3 years ago. It feels like a lifetime. Only 2 months later she was diagnosed with stage 4 Lung Cancer. That feeling of being robbed we felt then is all over me now. Life, for all it’s beauty and gifts can be so cruel.
I miss you Shmooey as much today as I ever have.
Before I finish I would just like to point out that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. It is the biggest killer of Men and Women in the UK, more than breast, prostrate and colo-rectal cancer combined. Know the symptoms and seek help immediately. A persistent cough, weight loss, night sweats, back pain, lethargy. If Lung Cancer is diagnosed early it can have survival rates as high as 73%.
Love and hugs to all xxx