The moment I knew: his voice on speaker made me laugh – and broke my family’s haze of grief

Liam and I met in October 2019 and by the time we were “official” there was only a few months until the first Covid lockdown. He was living on the New South Wales Central Coast and I was in Sydney – many local government areas apart. We had the chat of “Oh God, what do we do? I hardly know you!” Surely there was no way we could do long distance – this was our honeymoon period!

Once I had received word that Home and Away had paused production “until further notice”, I packed up my 2003 Golf and drove from Sydney to the Central Coast where I spent eight weeks living with Liam, his parents and siblings during a period of complete unknown. Within this large family of big personalities, Liam had a remarkable ability to defuse a tense situation in a way that made everyone feel instantly better.

Once the first lockdown was over, we began our lives together in Sydney, where I took Liam to see his first play, an independent show at Kings Cross Theatre. His “gasp” when a twist in the plot was revealed was just so pure – I’d never known someone to get so emotionally invested in a live performance.

We continued to visit his family on the coast, where we’d drive to the servo after dinner on hot summer nights to pick up ice-cream for everyone, with Liam in the driver’s seat belting the lyrics to Taylor Swift songs.

Liam Forcadilla and Lukas Radovich in the Blue Mountains in NSW on a Forcadilla family holiday in 2021.

The moment I absolutely knew “this is my person” came last year, in a haze of grief and despair.

My dad died suddenly a few days before my whole family (bar Liam, who was busy with his men’s netball career) were due to reunite in Italy. It was the first time we would all be together in seven years. My parents were already in Rome, and I was in Puglia when it happened. The first person I called when I heard the news was Liam. Within three days, he was on a plane to Rome – his first time in Europe.

I tracked his 24-hour journey across the globe using an app, staring at a tiny plane following a dotted line from Sydney to Dubai, Dubai to Rome, as I obsessively refreshed the screen. Dot by dot, he was getting closer.

By the time he landed, my family was in full survival mode. We were in an apartment in one of the most romantic cities in the world in the height of summer – the streets smelling of Aperol, pizza and pasta – trying to get through each hour without falling apart.

Lukas Radovich (left) and Liam Forcadilla in Rome in 2023

My phone rang as we were having a crisis meeting trying to find accommodation for the night ahead. I put the phone on speaker as a voice came through. My person’s voice. “Buongioooornoooo!!” It was enough to break us out of the trance we were under from lack of sleep and deep grief. Everyone started laughing. My mum, my sisters-in-law, my brothers. I hadn’t seen them smile in days.

Liam’s over-the-top accent caught us off guard and broke the spell. The tension in the room lifted as my family and Liam quipped back and forth like the world’s most delicate tennis match. Liam knew what we needed, and he delivered.

A few hours later, I met up with Liam to show him the way to our apartment. He was waiting on the side of the road next to Castel Sant’Angelo. He gave a little wave and a knowing look. It feels wrong to describe that moment as joyous, and yet it was. I felt at home, even on the other side of the world. It occurred to me that this man was going to be in my life forever.

It was Liam’s birthday earlier this year and we were at home in the morning getting ready to go out and celebrate with friends. I ducked out to the markets to buy flowers and coffee. I came home and put on Liam’s favourite Taylor Swift song (Lover), handed him the flowers, coffee and a little white box with a ring inside.

A few ugly-cry tears later, he said “Yes.”

  • Lukas Radovich and Liam Forcadilla are ambassadors for The Push-Up Challenge, a free mental health and fitness event running in June in Australia.

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