Last summer, on my 54th birthday, I met the most wonderful woman in the world.
This May, exactly a month before my 55th birthday, I will have dinner in exactly the same place as I met this absolutely beautiful brain.
But this year I shall be accompanied only by memories: by the past; by the passed also, perhaps.
Physically, I will finally be solo. Yet mentally, I will finally be complete.
The last nine months have been a serious period of emotional gestation for me.
Yet with the interventions wise and glorious of Claire, for that is the name of the person I am describing, I have overcome a more than decade-long depression, due entirely to a relationship with her mother, dating from 2004, which broke up quite savagely and furiously after a very brief liaison.
The relationship was a madness from start to end, and deserved to end, of course: but not as it did. No one – especially neither of these two parties on this occasion – deserves to bear the weight of so much pain.
And so in different ways, both of the lovers suffered equally distressing fates.
Both have wonderful children. And this is surely an unalloyed blessing.
In my case, meanwhile, I refused to accept society’s judgement of me as paranoid schizophrenic.
With respect to my opposite number in this affair, I lately know too little of her feelings to be sure if she really accepted her quite saddening diagnosis also.
I suspect she did, and I suspect she has.
My initial instinct is to think less of her for ultimately throwing in the towel on life’s terrible vicissitudes. But we are all free agents, and have all suffered differently. It is clearly not my right to pass judgement in any way.
What I do take away from the past nine months, and what I will treasure for the rest of my life, and what will mean that I will never love another woman again, is the look and glance and hug and smile and speech and gentleness and guts and sheer honesty which Claire expressed to me that 16th of June 2016, when we had dinner in The Woollen Mills in Dublin, and – as a result – I began my slow road to full emotional recovery.
You never renege on a woman who regales you such a gift.
And now I never shall.