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Canadian’s health issue unites couple

by Mami Maruko

On their first date, Eiko Tiernan was told by her future husband, Laurier, that he has Marfan syndrome, a congenital hereditary disease that affects about 1 in 5,000 people. At first, she did not know how to react, as she knew nothing about the disease.

Four months later, having gradually learned about the syndrome, she decided to marry Laurier, as she wanted to be at his side throughout his battle with the disease.

Marfan syndrome is caused by a weakening of connective tissues and can occur in many parts of the body. A patient can suddenly suffer severe cardiovascular problems, including a ruptured aorta, unless they have regular examinations and appropriate treatment.

Born in Edmonton, Canada, Laurier was diagnosed with the illness when he was 14.

Exactly a month after the couple got married in 2008, Laurier started to experience severe backache, a symptom that his aorta was starting to tear. He was quickly hospitalized, had emergency surgery and recovered. Eiko was with him through the entire episode.

Laurier arrived in Japan in 2002, to have his first album released from his friend’s music label. He also taught English part-time until 2008. Soon after, he started to freelance, doing mainly music-related work.

Eiko was born in Akita Prefecture and lived there until 25. She volunteered in Israel for a year, where she met her first husband, and gave birth to her son, Gen, a year later. The couple divorced in 1997 and Eiko took custody of her son, now 20, and lived with him for 10 years until marrying Laurier in 2008.

Laurier, Eiko and Gen live in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, at the foot of Tokyo Sky Tree.

What do you do for a living?

Laurier: I am a songwriter. I compose songs, play the acoustic guitar solo, am also a guitar-member of a punk-pop band, Laurier Tiernan, and play the guitar for the acoustic duo Nature Airliner with Eiko as vocals. In addition, I do modeling for art school classes, some music journalism work, narration for documentaries, and teach the guitar.

Eiko: I’m a sales operation manager at an information technology-related American firm. I’m also a photographer, mainly taking publicity photos of Laurier, and I recently started singing professionally, too.

What do you think of your professions?

Eiko: I thought that Laurier should devote himself to his music profession which he really loves, so I told him that I’ll support him. He quit his part-time job as an English teacher shortly after.

Laurier: Eiko has been manager in her job for three years, and she’s very professional at it. She is also my manager as a musician. She manages things very well! I’m glad I married her.

How did you first meet?

Eiko: We first got in touch through a notice I put on the Internet on the Metropolis magazine website, asking for “one romantic person.”

Laurier: It was a simple, straightforward message, so it caught my eye.

Eiko: We exchanged a few e-mails, and after one phone call, met up for the first time.

How did you decide to get married?

Eiko: After I ended my first marriage, I came to know exactly what I wanted in a marriage: someone who would love me from the bottom of his heart. Laurier was exactly a guy like that, with an honest and sincere personality.

Laurier: It really feels like destiny. On our first date, I thought that Eiko was so beautiful and sexy that I thought she would never date me. I wanted to see her again immediately, so I asked her on a second date the following day. After a month or so, we got engaged.

How did your parents react to your marriage?

Eiko: At first, my parents objected a lot to the marriage. They were worried about what would happen to Gen. They refused to talk to me for about two months. When my mother talked to Laurier over the phone by chance, she changed her mind completely. Now my parents are very fond of Laurier.

Laurier: It was actually the opposite for my parents. I broke up with three fiances, who were all selfish, in the past. I had bad luck with girls. When my parents met Eiko, they said: “Marry this one. She’s great!” All my relatives love Eiko. They say that Eiko’s so sweet.

How did Eiko’s son react to the marriage?

Eiko: He had no hesitation talking to foreigners, as I had lots of foreign friends. However, we got into quarrels at first concerning Laurier and me showing affection to each other, like hugging in front of Gen. It was difficult for him, as he was a teenager then. Now, we compromised quite a bit, and are on good terms.

Laurier: My parents divorced when I was fairly young, and my mother remarried. I had a bad time with my stepfather, so I didn’t want to be a bad stepfather myself. I thought that the first impression was important, so when I went to Eiko and Gen’s house for the first time, I brought Gen a gift — a memory stick with his favorite types of music in it. I think I managed to make a good impression on him.

Eiko: When Laurier and I went to Guam for 10 days, Gen’s wisdom tooth started aching from stress. At that time, he told us that he wanted to build a duplex house and live with us even after he has his own family.

What language do you speak to each other and to your son?

Eiko: Half-Japanese and half-English. Simple expressions tend to be in Japanese, but we have serious conversations in English. We talk to Gen mostly in Japanese, because he doesn’t understand English.

Laurier: We sometimes talk in Spanish to each other when we’re joking!

What are your dreams for the future?

Laurier: I had three dreams ever since I was young: to find the love of my life, to make a complete living off of my music and to own a beautiful house beside the ocean. Now I’ve found Eiko, so I’d like to realize the other two dreams.

Eiko: I don’t have a particular dream. I’ll just do whatever I can do little by little. It would be good, though, if I could use my creativity and ideas to do something like coaching people toward a better life. I would like to do some writing, too.

Laurier: Eiko has so much experience both personally and professionally, so I think she could be a good motivational speaker for younger Japanese women.