Tuesday, 28 June 2011


How can someone explain the anxiety, the excitement, the nerves of a Bride the night before her wedding?

One sleep! This was it, I had one night left as being "me". Not a lot will change once I am married, but I will have a new name. This was hard to get my head around. I sat in my mothers conservatory and scribbled my new signature on a piece of scrap paper. I was running out of room. A couple of weeks beforehand I'd text H's sister in a slight panic worried about whether I'd sign the register with my maiden name or my married name. It was to be signed in my maiden name, the last time I ever sign that signature. I practised my new scribble anyway, just to get the feel of it. It felt good.

I longingly wanted to text or call H the night before our Big Day. I hadn't seen him for a week as he'd been in work, on ceremonial duties outside The Queen's home, Buckingham Palace. H was glad that he had been promoted since his last time on ceremonial duty. This time he no longer had to stand still outside the palace, and randomly march when bored. He simply marched out and changed the guards. I took the children to watch him a few weeks before the wedding. J understood and was so excited when he saw Daddy marching along out of St James' Palace. We stood close enough to hear his distinctive Welsh accent read the guard his "rights" (if that's what they're called!). It was funny to see him, dressed in that trademark red tunic, and what seemed like a gigantic Bear Skin on his head. Once H had done his bit, I grabbed the children and we ran to the front of Buckingham Palace to watch the big, rehearsed, changing of the guard. H told us where to stand to get best view of him. It made me giggle, watching all these "toy soldiers" marching around. Even though H hates the fact he has to guard the Royal Family, I definitely felt proud as I stood there and watched him. Everything timed perfectly.

I had spoken to H the week before the wedding, but I knew I couldn't speak to him the night before. I'm by no means superstitious but I knew I wasn't to talk to him. He stayed at his mothers that night, and I stayed with my mum. I had a bath and relaxed as much as I could. I thought I wouldn't be able to sleep that night, but I slept like a baby.

'BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP'! I was already awake. The alarm startled me into the real world however. The day was here, it was really here. I looked over at the wardrobe where my beautiful wedding dress was hanging. I ran my fingers over the clear casing it was in. Butterflies flew around my stomach. My phone buzzed and the front door knocked. My bridesmaids. My gorgeous cousin S was at the door, and my dear friend L was on her way. I ran downstairs, my mum was cooking me poached egg and smoked salmon on a toasted muffin. Delicious. Once that had gone down we popped the bottles of Marks & Spencer's pre mixed cocktails. Another knock at the door and my hairdresser arrived. My hairdresser was also one of my best friends. Her mum was my florist and rang whilst she was with me to say that the venue looked superb. The hairs all over my body stood on end, and I gave a little shudder. Excitement ran through my veins.
With all of our hair done, we loaded the car with ourselves and our belongings (including my dress). We all managed to squeeze into my mums bright yellow Mini. Not quite the entrance of a bride, but luckily the hotel had given me the Bridal suite all day so I was getting ready there.
H rang my bridesmaids as we drove to the venue. They explained where we were and how long we would be to ensure he was hidden away in his room with his parents when I arrived. I grabbed my dress and ran up the staircase quickly to hid myself in the Bridal suite. "Kirsty?" I heard a Welsh accent behind me, I turned and saw H's dad. He gave me a smile and a wink, with that I carried on running.

I sat, fidgety, as my make-up was being done. My bridesmaids running around the room getting themselves ready. I looked over at L, who was cheekily laying out my Bridal lingerie on the four-poster bed.
The Febuary before the wedding, I had been sat in church and decided it was time for me to become a Christian. My mother-in-law & sister-in-law baptised me in the baptism pool within our church foyer. As I had done this, I therefore made H wait until our wedding night to make love. He was surprisingly cool with this, and said if that is my wish he shall be happy.
I blushed slightly looking at the lingerie. Butterflies once more swirled around my belly. "Pout your lips babe" my mum said to me. She applied the gloss over my lipstick. "There" she said "Beautiful". My mind quickly went off the thought of our first wedded night. It was time to step into the dress.

I now looked like a bride. A real bride. My hair was done, my make-up was done, I had a beautiful dress on. This was it. I looked at my bridesmaids, my mum had scurried off to get herself ready. We all looked amazing. L picked up the box of my Something New. I smiled at her and sat on the bed. One after the other she did the honour of slipping on my shoes. S passed me my Something Blue, I carefully slid my vintage French lace garter, complete with blue Swarofski crystal heart, up my thigh. My Something Old and Something Borrowed was one item. One of the girls gently draped my Great Nan's pearls around my neck and fastened the diamond encrusted clip. Tears filled my eyes as my father walked in the room and set eyes upon my dress for the first time. He coughed "You look beautiful" he said, and kissed me on the cheek. I wanted to grab him and hug him and tell him I love him, in fear of ruining my look and squeezed his hand and said "Thank you". My dad wasn't one to show emotion openly. That was enough.

My bridesmaids securely fitted my veil, and I was complete.

I linked arms with my father, and we walked together down the corridor. He held my hand tightly as I took baby steps down the stairs, my legs turning to jelly. The hotel manager met me at the bottom step, "Would you like a glass of water?"
I thought gin more appropriate, but accepted his offer. Other hotel guests gasped and whispered "she looks beautiful" as I walked through the lounge with my entourage. My registrar met my before I reached the room in which I was to wed. Her name was Jodie. She told me H was there, and drinking nervously from his hip flask. I could hear the sweet, calming sound of the harpist. My mind was hazy.
I looked down to see J (aged 5 at the time), dressed as a page boy, smiling at me. "You look pretty mummy", my heart leapt. I bowed down, took his hand and kissed his cheek. "Remember what you have to do, you have the biggest responsibility of all." He nodded. "When Jodie asks for the rings you must come forward and hold out mummy and daddy's rings. Ok baby boy?". He nodded again.
He took my niece's hand. The harpist started playing Canon in D. This was me, this was my part. I heard the guests stand up. My dad ushered my page boy and my flower girl through the doors, off the skipped. I looked at my dad, panicked. My veil, I wanted my veil over my face. What a time to decide huh?!
My bridesmaids rushed around me. Over my face the veil went. I breathed. In went my cousin S. Then at the next point, in went L. I linked arms with my dad, and he held my hand using his other arm. "I love you" he said, "I love you too dad". Off we went.
The smell of my Wedding Day Yankee Candles filled my nostrils. It seemed like thousands of faces staring at me, but we only had 60 guests. I turned into the aisle.

At that moment, the perfect moment, my heart definitel skipped a beat. H turned to look at me, Canon in D being played by the harpist still. His smile bowled me over. I felt like I was floating. He reached out to me, like Prince Charming with Cinderella, as I reached the bottom of my 1000 mile walk down the aisle. My dad carefully pulled the veil back from my face, and H kissed me.

This was the perfect beginning to the perfect day.

The day went by about 100mph, but I cherish every moment.

In the evening the DJ announced our first dance. The Script- I'm Yours. As far as H and I were concerned we were the only people in that room. A lot of people later told me that they'd managed to keep it together until then. My Prince and I.
We danced our first dance along, we then invited people to join the dance floor to our second dance. Our song, Set The Fire To The Third Bar by Snow Patrol.
I could not have asked for a better day or not.

I managed to drag my father up for our dance. We danced alone for the first minute or so, and I heard my mum say from a table nearby "She really loves him", she said this in a beautiful way, in a happy way. I blinked fast to stop my tears as a response to that statement. Half way though George Michael & Elton John - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, J joined us. We held J's hands and danced around the dancefloor, 3 generations.

That night H and I hurried up the hotel stairs to the Bridal suite...

All elements of the day fulfilled. Welcome to married life, as an Army Wife...

Monday, 6 June 2011


What is normal? I knew life and H would never be the same again after his tour to Afghanistan. Too many friends lost, too many people killed. He'd killed people, confirmed kills. How does someone deal with that?
You'd think T would've given his daddy a chance to get back into his family role before saying hello. I suppose life doesn't wait for anything. You just have to take it as it comes.

For the first few months of T's life, myself and H were a little disconnected from each other and the world. H would drink, and I remember him staying up until silly o'clock because he couldn't sleep. Within his first week of being home, and the first week of T's life, we had been to church and H had been for quiet words with his close friend. Something I was grateful of, H wouldn't talk to me about his experiences out there, not like he needed to. He needed to talk to someone who was able to understand, even if that person understood only a little. I would get upset if he spoke to me, have nightmares.
That night H lit a fire in our back garden, I gave him space. He needed to be alone sometimes, maybe he needed to cry, maybe he talked to lost friends, who knows, but I knew he needed time. He took with him a big Cuban cigar that my aunty had given him before he left, "This is for you, it's for you to smoke when you come home, safe!". In his other hand he took outside a bottle of Jäagermeïster, I'm not certain how much he drank.
I sat inside, J in bed, and T asleep next to me in his Moses basket. I was so tired from night feeds, I was curious but I didn't have to energy to peek on what he was doing. I don't know how long after I found out, but that night he sat out the garden, reading and then burning his last letters one by one. I'm glad of this, that is not a letter I'd like to find one day. It was written for a purpose, and thankfully that purpose didn't come to light. Curiosity used to sting me like a snake bite, but I knew that if I knew what he had written to me, to the children, it would haunt me for the rest of my life.

H was a good father. He'd always been excellent with J. If I wasn't breastfeeding I know he would've fed T, he'd wake up in the night and sit with me. When H went back to work I would sit alone feeding T, tears falling down my cheeks, I'd wipe them before they had a chance to fall onto T's face. I longed for his feet to be touching mine, for his cheeky kisses that would bring me to life when I was dozing off. At least he would be there at the weekend. I'd sometimes text him, but it was hit or miss whether he'd wake to his message. Those were lonely times.

I always wondered whether H would be "normal" again. He was thrown into war, only to be pulled out and thrown into fatherhood.
At weekends, and during his post-deployment leave we both floated around like zombies, me due to the night feeds and T draining every ounce of energy from me through the breastfeeding. H due to his lack of sleep and his intake of alcohol.

Once T was a bit more knowing, and actually did stuff like laugh, and follow H around the room, I think H perked up. The love from father to son was always there, but the frame of mind H must've been in seemed to fade it sometimes.
H loved play fighting with J, and J loved it too. They'd play pile on and tickle T together. It was beautiful to see these moments, like roses amongst the thorns. Life would get better, and go back. We just all needed time.

I was on a crazy mission to lose weight, I had daringly bought a wedding dress whilst pregnant. I had bought it in my pre-pregnancy size, and raced time to fit into it. I jogged a local park, and ate only a piece of fruit and a yoghurt for lunch.
I kept my dress in my mums attic room, to keep wandering eyes off it. Myself and a close friend dared a fitting, the zip was only going up half way. This was not good. I had to up my game.
In the June before the wedding I started a new job, routine I thought would help me from snacking. I also joined Slimming World. With H finally coming back to us, I would not let this minor issue (it was not minor to me) get to me, I would beat it, like H and I had beaten our separation and our crazy reunion.
Everything for the wedding was set. The stress of everything was being lifted. I could focus on my beautiful wedding day.

With a matter of months before the wedding I felt I was ready to fit the dress. As H was on ceremonial duty, he already had his outfit sorted! My mother and I slipped away, up to the attic. H grabbed my hand before I ran up the stairs after my mum. He kissed me, that was enough.
I ran upstairs with butterflies. I wriggles out of my clothes and stepped into the dress that my mother had laid out for me. She pulled it up, past my hips, I closed my eyes. I held my breath as she pulled the inner layer tight across my back, and with one pull the dress was fastened around my body. "It fits" I squealed. I looked at my mum, tears filling her eyes, she turned from me grabbed my veil and carefully placed it in my hair as we both looked into the mirror. That was the moment it was real, I was going to be a bride, a bride for the best man in the world. We giggled as I took it off and got re-dressed. The moment between mother and daughter the moment that dress is put on is magical.
"Right let's get married" I said when I got downstairs. With a kiss we sealed the deal.