Jolene and Gaius at Wheeler's Estate. Photo: Her World
“I was 14, and Gaius, 16, was my senior in secondary school. He was boyishly handsome and seemed more mature than all the other boys in my social circle. I added him on Facebook, he accepted the invite, and we started chatting on MSN Messenger. When we finally met in person, we hit it off instantly, and within two weeks, were ‘going steady’.
In Gaius, I found support and a listening ear, which mattered because of my family circumstances. My mother had died when I was three, and my father and I were taking care of my elder sister, now 25, who has a mental disorder. Gaius was kind and empathetic – exactly what I needed when my peers didn’t always know how to react.
We’ve seen each other through personal tragedy. In 2014, his mother had a seizure when a blood vessel in her brain ruptured. Shortly after, she died. There was so much grieving in the days that followed, but Gaius refused to shed a tear in front of his family. ‘They don’t have anyone, but I have you to help me cope,’ he told me.
After his mother’s death, Gaius and I were like any other couple. We especially loved to travel. In February 2017, we went to Melbourne, but he drifted through the entire trip like a sleepwalker, and complained about feeling tired all the time.
About a month after we got home, the headaches started. Throughout the day, he would feel an incessant, sharp pain in his head, and a buzzing in his ear. He developed a squint, and one eye was unable to focus on what was directly in front of him.
We saw a general practitioner about his worsening headaches. But when the pain did not stop after three weeks, we went to the accident and emergency department. At Changi General Hospital, we waited hours for an MRI scan, then waited some more for the results. I went back to the office to finish some work, but promised Gaius I’d be back soon. Later, he called. ‘They found two growths in my brain,’ he said.