by Aidan O’Connell, Ireland. The love of his life, Laura, was also Irish
I am not sure how to start this, how to write this.
In 2007, I was in the middle of my ten-year career as a VIP in Copper Face Jacks, a popular night club in Ireland, and had become separated from my friends (easy to do in a club with 2000 drunk people). To anyone who’s ever been there, you cannot move an inch.
I was sitting on the speakers and downing the drink in my hand when this gorgeous dark haired girl with a crazy amount of red colouring. I like dark hair or crazy coloured hair.
I decided to exhibit some courage and said “Hey I love your hair.” She smiled the most beautiful white-toothed smile and told me she had lost her friends.
I said “join the club; it’s Coppers.”
I offered her a space to sit down as she was wearing beautiful heels. I’ll admit, she was hesitating, but she tentatively jumped up on the side of the enormous speaker. They say there is no such thing as love at first sight. There wouldn’t be for me with a girl looking at me! That night, though, I was weighing less, about 6ft 3, maybe 14.5 stone and wearing a red t shirt and blue jeans. My hair was longer and sporting the spiky, wet-look.
Laura was wearing the most beautiful short black dress and looked stylish and classy and her eyes were so intriguing that I fell in love with her immediately. We started to talk and we gelled. An hour slipped by, a few trips to the bar, when her friend found her. I cursed under my breath!
As she was whisked off, I couldn’t muster the courage to ask Laura for her number. She was so beautiful and her friends were obviously used to seeing guys hanging off her. She went into the crowd. I put my head in my hands when I got a tap. I wasn’t interested, so I didn’t look around until I heard Laura’s west of Ireland accent and she kissed me so passionately that I knew then and there that I’d met the girl I would marry.
Laura’s friends were behind her trying to pull her away from a drunk Dub, but the kiss lasted, and I recall all of this so vividly. I asked her, “Give me your number and one date and one chance.” She agreed and I keyed in the number and rang her so she had mine (good verification of number check!)
We said goodbye. I didn’t look for my friends, I got my jacket and went home and passed out into sleep. I woke up and felt like shit the next day, but immediately located my phone and checked last dialed numbers and there she was: “Laura.”
OK, 500 words, I’ll speed up.
We had a date and it was awesome and she asked me back to her apartment in Rathmines. It was here, I discovered that she liked to drink and we went through three bottles of red wine and without getting too personal, we shared a bed without any “action.” I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been dragged through a bush eight times but I looked over at the young slim lady beside me and watched Laura sleep and I touched her skin and hair.
It was from there that we became like twins joined at the hip
I practically moved in with her and if I wasn’t with her in her apartment, she was living with me. We never had a row, we never disagreed, we discovered we liked the same music and went to Dublin and Mayo football matches and started to holiday abroad. She was a good deal younger than me; I was 27 and she was 23. I told her I loved her. She didn’t reciprocate there and then but as 2007 turned into 2008, she told she was in love with me, too. She boosted my self-esteem.
I discovered Laura had clinical depression and was drinking too much
I was drinking whiskey like water that wasn’t a major problem but the clinical depression was frightening. I remember many nights when we would talk and she would curl into the fetal position and sob her heart out. I held her. I wiped the tears away. She would fall asleep and then I would have a few tears as the person I loved most in the world was upset and broken. I would watch her have night terrors and I brought her to the doctor and psychotherapy appointments. I would silently say prayers to whoever might be out there, and I found it draining. I discovered she had experienced sexual abuse at a young age. Heartbreaking.
I made a decision I wanted to get married at 28 and I spent a fortune on an engagement ring and was shaking as I asked her father (important to do things properly and we got on well). He said yes and Laura said YES! We both hugged and held each other and didn’t let go all night or the next day.
Laura’s mental health problem wasn’t improving but she had stopped drinking madly. I brought her to a lot of GPs and specialists but it was all just a prescription pad and a medication and some of the consultants were shockingly bad. Laura was too afraid to start the meds.
A friend of mine was celebrating a birthday and had asked me to go to the Canary Islands. I said “No,” but Laura talked me into it. She was insistent. Something I look back on.
I was miserable as soon as we left Ireland. I drank like a fish and I was counting down days until Wednesday 08.08.08. That morning I took a phone call from a friend saying, “I am so sorry Aidan.” I was confused, I was hungover. Word began to reach me that Laura had taken her life (it was mistaken by some friends that I was in Dublin). I remember the room spinning and I understand that I fainted. I woke up in a clinic – and look, there’s a stigma against this, but I was sobbing.
I was heavily sedated and slept (late flight). My great friends got me to the airport, but upon awakening I slipped onto the ground and I was lying on the ground and sobbing uncontrollably. I remember some British tourist coming over and making a derogatory comment and I knocked him out with 1 punch (I’m ashamed of this). The airport police had me in next, but my friends and medics got involved and I was OK. More sedation for the flight home.
The hardest thing I ever did was meet Laura’s parents. They liked me and I liked them. There was a postmortem. I had the difficult task of going up her empty apartment and trying to get her clothes and stuff to bring to her mom as requested. I again broke down uncontrollably. Sorry for losing my manly reputation.
I did what I had to do. I took a few cardigans and slept with them till the last ounce of her perfume and smell left them. I had a very important work position at the time and I wasn’t getting on with my parents (I didn’t tell work or my parents). I know it sounds crazy.
The removal was a blur. I was drunk but hid it. Looking at her dead body led me to embarrassingly collapse again and I ruined the event as emergency services were called. I was fine!
The funeral was the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life. I had quite a fair amount of whiskey and I can’t write much here now as I’m very upset writing this.
Carrying the coffin was the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do in my life
I know I’ll never have to face anything like that again. I can’t say anymore. I visited the spot she drowned herself and came close to doing the same as she did on 18 May 2015. I understand the distinction between suicidal ideation and intent and I don’t think I ever had intent as far as I know.
Can we please end the stigma on suicide? Laura passed the line of despair that a human can take. I’ve had relationships since, but they sucked! I have her parents’ approval to try and find someone. I’m old at 36 and I want kids. I’ll always love Laura. She’s sitting on my shoulder as I write this. I love you Laura.
RIP Laura. RIP my precious beautiful angel bride I never got to spend my life with.