La Vie En Rose: Dave Roche's partner talks about their own love story

Less than a month after the untimely death of popular LGBT rights advocate Dave Roche, his partner Paul O’Shea gives an insight into the love they shared

La Vie En Rose: Dave Roche's partner talks about their own love story

“LA Vie En Rose” by French singer, Edith Piaf, is arguably one of the most famous romantic love songs of all time.

Released as a single in 1947, Piaf’s love ballad met international recognition, and the song became emblematic of French romantic culture.

The song’s title literally translates as “Life in Pink”.

Fittingly, the song depicts a state of bliss, the sanguine outlook when one is deeply in love, and where everything around you appears cheerful and a source of joy; perhaps, even “rosy”, akin to the glow on the blushing cheeks of a person in love. I lived la vie en rose (life in pink) in love with Dave Roche.

The powerful melody of “La Vie En Rose” blasted from the speakers of Dave’s Mercedes-Benz as we drove to Killarney one gloriously sunny day, when we started going out.

Dave loved Killarney and it became his second home, where he spent Christmas and any special occasion, playing with my niece and dog, and entertaining my mother and sister with comical stories of his inspirational life.

When guffaws of laughter could be heard resonating from my house, everybody knew Dave was in the neighbourhood.

Dave was such a hopeless romantic, who believed in passion, chivalry and true love.

Dave Roche at Evan and Michael Murphy Keogh’s wedding reception in Ditchley House, Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa Cork, on July 8, 2016. Dave is holding a Rosewood electronic pipe that was given to him as a Christmas gift by his partner, Paul O’Shea. David Roche passed away on July 1, after many years working as a community worker in Cork where he provided much needed help to members of the LGBT Community.
Dave Roche at Evan and Michael Murphy Keogh’s wedding reception in Ditchley House, Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa Cork, on July 8, 2016. Dave is holding a Rosewood electronic pipe that was given to him as a Christmas gift by his partner, Paul O’Shea. David Roche passed away on July 1, after many years working as a community worker in Cork where he provided much needed help to members of the LGBT Community.

He sought every opportunity to perform a romantic act, to express his love for me in sharing a piece of his heart.

Dave played Piaf’s song for me with loving affection, tears in his eyes and his warm, loving hand clasped firmly in mine.

They say a picture paints a thousand words, but Dave’s touch was so powerful, it transcended all words and gestures.

The subtle caresses of his fingertips on my forearm were like butterflies dancing on flower petals, and he played on my skin the tactile melodies of his loving soul.

Since finding each other, by pure serendipity, our lives had quickly become characteristic of the song’s central metaphor.

We had fallen madly in love, and we saw the world afresh, through rosy hues.

Piaf’s hymn represented our love affair and was so beautiful that it allowed us, like the singer, to forget all “des ennuis, des chagrins” (weariness and grief).

Dave loved Edith Piaf because her powerful voice captured the anguish of love and heartbreak.

Piaf delivered her songs with an emotive conviction that she herself had experience exploring the dark corners of the soul; a place not only familiar to Dave, but to every gay man growing up in Ireland, including myself.

Love heals all wounds and it was the glue that stuck our broken pieces together.

As I struggle with the grief of Dave’s untimely death, I yearn for his love to glue the pieces of my broken heart back together again.

I cannot believe nearly a month has passed now since Dave died.

Shortly, we will be celebrating his memorial event in the same venue, St Peter’s, Cork, where almost a year ago we dressed in matching pink-polka dot bow-ties and boutonnieres to celebrate Evan and Michael Murphy Keogh’s wedding.

I will never, ever forget that special day because it felt like we owned the world together.

As the rain began to fall outside St Peter’s, Dave, being the utmost gentleman he always was, decided he needed to find me an umbrella.

We skipped across the road to the nearest shop and after some deliberating about what would be considered “too gay”, we burst out on to the streets of Cork City sporting the last and only two pink rose patterned umbrellas left in the shop.

Heads turned, people smiled and laughed in solidarity and surprise, as we sauntered to the nearest coffee shop in Cornmarket centre.

We sat outside the cafe, in the mall area, sipping coffee and nibbling on some pre-prandial appetisers, while staring into each other’s eyes as the rest of the world fell away around us. Those of you in love, or who have ever been in love, will know these moments when you find divinity in the strange, numinous beauty of a lover’s iris.

No other words describe this feeling better than the opening lines of William Blake’s poem, “To See A World…”: “To see a World in a grain of Sand And Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour.”

Our self-contained bubble of loving bliss was burst when people started coming up to us to congratulate us on our “Big Day,” to tell us how handsome we looked, how they voted “Yes” in the Marriage Equality referendum, and how wonderful it was that we could get married now.

Dave Roche with his partner, Paul O’Shea, wearing matching pink-polka dot bow ties and boutonnières at Evan and Michael Murphy Keogh’s wedding reception in Ditchley House
Dave Roche with his partner, Paul O’Shea, wearing matching pink-polka dot bow ties and boutonnières at Evan and Michael Murphy Keogh’s wedding reception in Ditchley House

Dave and I were inconsolable with laughter and joy from the entertainment we were attracting.

I would sacrifice anything of myself now to freeze that precious moment in time forever, and relive it again, and again.

I could never have possibly imagined back then that nearly a year later I would be planning to return to St.Peter’s Cork again, to celebrate not our union, but instead to celebrate our parting, the precious time we shared together, and the legendary life Dave lived.

Despite the evident age-gap between us, Dave’s age never concerned me, but since his death his age concerns me now.

Dave died too young.

His life was taken far too soon.

We had so many plans, dreams and goals to fulfil together in our future.

When I read the numbers “1963” and “2017,” the beginning and the end, printed on Dave’s obituary, I realise that these two dates have no meaning without the dash that lies between them.

To quote from Linda Ellis’s inspiring poem, “The Dash”: “… what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

“For that dash represents all the time that they spent alive on earth.

And now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.”

Your dash is not merely just a line.

It is your life, an emblem of your precious time here on earth.

You only get one dash.

You never know how long your dash will be; how much time is left.

“Make your dash count!,” Dave would tell you, if he was alive now.

Although small, Dave’s dash counted; it represents his life, his worth, and all the lives he touched with how he spent his dash.

I am eternally grateful and proud that Dave and I got to share a part of each other’s dash.

Dave Roche twirling a pink, rose-patterned umbrella at the beautiful entrance of Ditchley House
Dave Roche twirling a pink, rose-patterned umbrella at the beautiful entrance of Ditchley House

Dave’s Memorial event from 6.30 to 10.00pm on August 4, in St. Peter’s Cork, North Main Street. We would like to welcome everyone to come along and donate any spare change to the chosen charity, Cork DAWG (Dog Action Welfare Group), collection boxes available at the venue.

More in this section

IE Logo

ABHAILE

Your guide to staying at home