Pau and I got married in a castle in the south of France on 29 June 2019. Our wedding was exactly as we planned: flowers everywhere in sight, heaps of French cheese, decadent architecture and words of love.
Eight months prior to that date, Pau had an episode of vertigo. He’d had one the previous year, but it only took him two weeks to recover, so we hadn’t placed too much importance on it. But this time, days passed and his vertigo still didn’t subside. He also had more symptoms, including blurred vision and unsteadiness. We visited several doctors and each one diagnosed him with different pathologies and prescribed different medications. We tried every single YouTube exercise, but Pau kept suffering from vertigo.
Two months later, we thought that it could be a vision problem, so we went to see a specialist who checked his ocular fundus (the interior surface of the eye). The eye doctor diagnosed him with glaucoma, a degenerative disease that is the second cause of blindness in the world. Suddenly, being afraid of Pau seeing my wedding dress turned into being afraid of him not being able to see it. But that wasn’t the cause and his dizziness didn’t disappear.
On one Sunday, while Pau was in Argentina, I opened our first and only joint folder holding documents for our marriage licence application. I stumbled upon the eye doctor’s report (the one in which he was diagnosed with glaucoma) and I realised that the patient data didn’t belong to Pau, but to a 68-year-old man. Pau had been given the wrong medical report. What if I’d never checked that report again?
A few months later, we found a vertigo specialist who was alarmed to discover that no MRI scan had been performed. That was the first thing that should have been done to rule out a brain tumour. We were in the back seat of his parents’ car when Pau opened the envelope with the MRI results. “No significant disruptions were observed” was the most beautiful sentence I had ever read.
And we continued on our way to Passeig de Gràcia to pick up his groom’s suit. I took a picture of Pau coming out of Prada with the garment bag in his hands, together with his parents. He appears smiling like a sad boy because he didn’t want to claim victory until the doctor made sure that there was nothing else to rule out. But I had become a vertigo expert by this point and I knew that with the MRI test ruling out a brain tumour, nothing else could be that serious.
So those eight months preceding my wedding were tinged with unparalleled anguish that made me resume my therapy sessions to work on my uncontrollable fear of a loved one dying — and of disease itself. I have been dealing with that ever since and it has uncovered other storylines that go far deeper.
We were travelling to the south of France to prepare for the wedding when Pau woke me up to tell me that his vertigo was back. But we already had the medication he needed, we’d cracked the code, and somehow we’d become immune to concern. Not long ago, we heard an alarm go off on Pau’s mobile phone. He told me that he’d never turned off the vertigo exercises alarm so that he could keep being grateful for feeling well — and what that means to him.
I am writing this today aware of how nothing in our past can be compared to the situation we are all currently experiencing. I am writing this to share with you that, today, all those months before our wedding are nothing but a confusing memory that my mind doesn’t need to revisit ever again. In fact, I had to reread some texts that I wrote back then to be able to describe what happened in detail.
Weddings are ancient rituals. They carry emotional baggage that is difficult to fathom — at least, rationally. During my first year as a married woman, I have understood that beyond the social event, the nerves experienced beforehand come from something deeper: a wedding is made up of two people with their own respective baggage, carrying a whole belief system inherited from their first families.
Marriage unifies their baggage, and the bride and groom trust this mix to work out with all their might. In my case, the blindness diagnosis and the phantom of a brain tumour didn’t help when it came to handling the process calmly. But they also made me reaffirm my conviction that it was Pau whom I wanted to be my man, under any circumstances.
Now all I can remember is the lavender field surrounding the castle, the smell of flowers, the oysters, our families together and the crying faces of all my friends looking from the railing circling our ceremony. I remember Pau’s vows and mine, in which one of the things that I mentioned was this, precisely: “Anything with you, even helping you out with your vertigo exercises in a hotel room, makes me feel that I am exactly where I want to be.”
And that is what I hope will happen to all those grooms and brides who have had to postpone their weddings due to the health crisis we are all enduring. There will be flowers, bells will toll, there will be a day when you open your eyes and it’s finally your wedding day. The day will come when you will celebrate that you are a family capable of overcoming anything. And those previous months will be overcome some of the most intense moments you will ever live.