Love lost, read and found
To be fair this story is about just one mixed tape and its twin. The tape in question was made because a part of me just never knew or perhaps wanted to ever let go. In selecting the tracks that would make up said tape, I picked tracks that were special to me but that I hoped collectively would spell out a very specific message. It was a tape that I made for Katherine just before she went off to Spain in early August of 1991 to work as an au pair for six months.
Perhaps I did not know it for sure back then, the meaning of what I felt that August of 1991 but now in 2013 I can identify without reservation the significance of that underlying feeling. Up until now, that was the last time that I was lost!
My 21st birthday and party came just barely a week after Katherine had left for her new post in Madrid. Everyone I can remember who was in some way a part of my life came to my party, with friends and family coming from all over. Even Katherine’s family came, but of course she was not there. I can’t remember exactly how I felt on that day and perhaps some of the feeling I am projecting backwards onto it, but watching the home video footage of the day I can relate it to everything I feel today. What it feels like to be a ghost in your own life!
Now it was only a few months prior to this time that Katherine and I were into our second stint as boyfriend and girlfriend and seeing as it was I who went cold on her, it might seem bizarre that so soon after, I would be making her a mix tape and longing for her not to go or even feeling like the ghost that I claim, but some part of me was lost from the first day I ever met Katherine and I only ever realised it for sure when she was no longer there.
But despite my realization of this fact I was really a little oblivious of how much I had hurt her, and that my loss of interest in our relationship had cut her deeply and for a second time. In that state of ignorance and in my own light bulb moment, I put together the mixed tape which to this day was the best random collection of songs I ever put together and this particular one I labelled ‘Eternal Love mix’. I miss the mixed tape! Back in those days everyone used to love making them and sharing them.
I made two copies of the tape, one for myself and one that I gave to her. Everything was changing all around me and for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t see where my life was going or know what I would be doing on a daily basis. I didn’t want her to go of course but we were not together any more and she was changing her life and that was probably because of me although I did not really know it at the time and it was only something she came to tell me only many years later.
I messed her around before and the second time when after 9 months together I suddenly went cold on her, she decided enough was enough really.
I could have made the worst mistake of my life, I did in fact! But thank God somehow I was able to win her back
I loved her from day one but she never showed me such interest for a long time.
I met her when I was 16 years and 18 days old and fell in love her instantly and knew she would be the girl I would marry. Somehow my heart and my lungs just knew and my inner voice told me so.
After about 5 months I got up the courage to finally ask her out but she said no!
By that time I was already walking her to college and home again each day and was fully entrenched in her circle of friends. (Track on mixed tape; ‘Circle of friends’ – By Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians). Despite this set back, I chased her for about another year and a half but she still never seemed that interested in me that way but part of me knew she was not looking for anyone else and that being a respectable family type girl was not in a rush to have boyfriends just for the sake of it. This was a quality in her that only added to what I already thought of her and though I loved her for it, I still longed for her to make me the exception to the rule.
Honestly, I don’t know if I knew then that she would ever return my affections but when I least expected it one her close friends fell for me instead and it wasn’t long before she was showing me such interest and soon after she told me so. I was not strong being a young man of just 18 and I guess I was blown away by this girl’s declaration of warm affections for me. But immediately after this revelation she went away on holiday leaving me in a bit of a head spin.
To add to the maelstrom of emotions my young inexperienced self was undergoing, during the time her friend was on holiday, Katherine perhaps threatened that she was going to lose me all of a sudden started to respond and openly finally returned some of my affection for the first time. I was on top of the world of course and we started dating almost immediately but being part of group of very close friends that that time, did not make it easy for us. Katherine and I were two ever present members of the group and it was not exactly convenient I guess, that we should pair up.
Anyway, whilst on holiday her friend sent me a valentine card with a really lovely letter in it and when she came back she was devastated and cried in my car on hearing that Katherine and I had got together. It was really heart breaking I guess as she was so warm and openly affectionate to me, and Katherine had never previously shown me any such affection, she was so much more reserved. I felt like a bastard and knew I could not win one way or another, but decided I had to split up with Kath after just barely a week together.
The group stayed friends as intensely as ever after that and we would all meet and go out six nights a week, but I never got Katherine or even her friend after that despite many efforts.
Finally after a year and a half of trying I finally managed to win Katherine over but she made me work hard for it! It went well for a while but just nine months later I went cold on her thinking that other girls were probably more exciting to me.
I never truly believed this too much and never went with anyone else, but the fact that I had gone cold on her a second time really broke her heart and she never really forgave me. We did not see anything of each other after that for about six months and it was difficult because of the group we were in and sharing the same friends, but one day I saw her standing away on her own while some of the group had come over to talk to me and it made my heart ache to see her there waiting alone having to avoid me.
Ignoring the very people who had come over to talk to me, I left them talking together and I went over to her ignoring what they might be thinking in light of all they had done to manage the situation and keeping us apart. I said hi and asked her how she’d been and I knew instantly I had made a mistake in losing her. Still my act of reconciliation made it possible for us to socialise together again in the same group and we casually became good friends again.
It is strange that despite each time I had achieved my freedom of her, I still did not want to let her out of my sight and just like I had done in my first and second pursuit of her, I entrenched myself in every part of her social life. We would go Gym together, play badminton together, swim together, drink, eat and go movies together, in fact anything that made it hard for her to be seen a single available woman was my mission.
But after our break up she had already decided to change her life and got a six month contract au pairing in Madrid, close to where her older brother lived. We were friends again but she had already committed to go in the summer and could not or would not pull out of it, and she went in August missing my 21st birthday party.
Before she left I gave her the tape I had made. It gave me some comfort to think she might be listening to something I had made for her and that I would be listening to it too with my own copy. I made her the ‘Eternal Love mix’ tape for her to take and listen to while she was in Spain, and I really put on some very meaning songs including one of my all time favourite songs called ‘My Eternal love’ and told her I would be listening every day to my copy in the car wherever I would drive.
Barry Gibb – My Eternal Love http://www.youtube.com
from Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “HAWKS” 1988. Produced by Barry Gibb
This song cuts me up every time even now! Despite loving the song so much, little did I know the relevance then of what the song would become to us. It is from a little known film called Hawks, and it is about two terminally ill cancer sufferers who steal an ambulance and go on the run rather than face their dying days in hospital.
I would listen to this song and the mixed tape on the way to work, all day long on the work music system, then again on the way home and wherever I drove out in the evenings it was always on.
I made up my mind that when she ever came back, I would not let her ever get away again.
But while she was out there she became ill with anorexia and when she came back to London she was so thin and nothing more than a skeleton… just barely 5 months after leaving.
I hate myself for saying this, but I was a bit repulsed I guess, and her character was different, she had changed, but worse was that I could hardly bring myself to look at her being such a shadow of her former self.
Again I don’t know if I realised it right then or if it was down to conversations had years later, but she came back, and I know I had done that to her, she had been really hurt by me and I did not really realise how badly.
We continued being good friends and from Christmas of 1991 to summer of 1992 she slowly recovered the weight and health and became the wonderful specimen I was always crazy about, but also in that time she made me suffer. I tried to see her every day, and we did a lot, but she was also just starting a new job and making loads of new friends and was investing huge energy in that area, much to my despair and torment. I would go wherever she was going, because I could not let her out of my sight or risk losing her to anyone else.
She made me work so hard, I tried everything to woo her back every day with something romantic or big show of affection and effort, but she did not trust me. Finally after 10 whole months of chasing her through thick and thin she finally relented and in October 1992, I finally won her back as a man, not as a boy as in both the previous times. That was the start of my real life, and who I am today!
I do not even recognise the idiot I was before then.
Fast forward 20 years from October 1992 to October 2012 and Katherine now my wife is in The Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton and after having spent most of the day visiting her in hospital I go home to be with our daughters. Later that evening she called me on the phone by her hospital bedside, and Hannah answered.
‘Hannah, get Daddy quick’ she said, and when Hannah called me, my heart kind of sank expecting worsening news!
‘Kevin listen’ she said, and just at that moment the background hospital radio station became clearer on the phone and they were playing her request, ‘listen’… then she held the phone to the bedside speaker system and I heard the tribute, ‘this one is from Katherine Plicio who says it’s for my husband Kevin who I love very much’, and then they played it on the radio ‘My Eternal Love’. I cried my heart out listening to it over the phone, knowing fate in that instance was confirming what I had known all my life and at the same time knowing now I must lose her.
Then soon after my wife died to cancer!
Katherine was an amazing woman, and I don’t just say that because I loved her and she was my wife. She stood up for what she believed and she never ever sold herself short. She valued herself like a rare diamond, and wasn’t about to give that away cheaply not even to someone like me!
Every friend in our group was in it for one reason only, Katherine! She was the glue for all of us. She was my glue especially!
When they ask, I prefer telling people, I’m okay! It worked well in my past and it works just as well now. It allows conversation to continue…
Some people may have opinions on what they think is right and what they think is wrong, and think they can judge what they see without knowing what emotions are kept locked away. I find I cannot share these precious things so easily, and as Katherine has so often showed me, neither now cheaply, do I want to give them away!
I never cared where that tape ever started or ended, it always ran on a loop. When I gave her the mix tape ‘Eternal Love mix’ so so long ago, I had no real belief that she would ever return to me, but she did and the tape came with her. Now those two tapes sit side by side together once more; a keepsake reminder of the magic that was the mix tape. While she was the keeper of the tape, I was never lost!
My life is filled with stories like these between Katherine and I.
When I first wrote this back in early 2013, I thought this was how this chapter would end. But where does any story really start or ever end? Just another year later with a team called Katherine’s Marchers, we marched The Marsden March in Kath’s memory to raise funds for the Charity and the same hospital where Kath had stayed when she was ill. We crossed the finish line right in front of the window from where Katherine once waved and moments later were asked if we wanted to be interviewed by the hospital’s Radio Marsden. They took us inside of the hospital corridor and ushered as many of our 27 strong team as they could, into little more than a broom closet that was the broadcasting room and then asked us why we all marched. I told them the brief story of losing Kath and at the end of the interview he asked, ‘What song would you like played next?’
It suddenly overwhelmed me as I realised I had come full circle and this time I was not at the end of a phone. This was the very room my dying wife had her tribute to me played from, when she relayed it to me down the line.
He then asked me to introduce the song on air and why I had picked it.I don’t think I ever picked it, but the song seemed to pick us.‘My Eternal Love’ by Barry Gibb.It is the main track in my ‘story of the mix tape’ and in turn, the main soundtrack to the story of Losing Kath.