Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

posthumous gestures

One time that my sub conscience takes over is when I go shopping. Let’s be clear, Desreen loved shopping, she loved spending money and she loved presents. So when I see something that I know she would have liked, I go to pick it up excited about how she’ll react. Only she won’t, because she no longer can. It’s a little high caused by a trick of the mind that is followed by a crashing low. However, you become grateful of anything that makes you feel happy even for a split second, so it kind of makes it worth accidentally wandering into the women’s department, even if you’ve got no-one to buy for.

It occurred to me before Christmas just how much I’ll miss buying things for her. I’ll miss the excitement I’d see on her face when she’d see a little purple bag from Liberty. I’ll miss the emails she’d send me with some of the ‘small things’ I might like to consider buying her for her birthday that invariably cost a minimum of £300, even though we were meant to be saving. I guess I’ll miss having no-one who’ll love my gestures as much as she did.

So I continue to make them.

Soon after she died I changed both mine and my son’s surname so we both carry Desreen’s family name as well as my own. We became Benjamin Brooks-Dutton and Jackson Bo Brooks-Dutton. She’d never taken my name when we got married because she had built up a great reputation in her industry and because Des Dutton sounds more like a snooker player than a fashion agent. She would have loved the fact that she had stood her ground as a strong independent woman while I became her ‘wife’.

I also did something that I kept secret from my parents and my in-laws, despite the fact I’m 33 and should be able to do whatever I like. I got a tattoo. Thankfully it wasn’t simply decided on a grief-fueled whim. I’d been thinking about it for quite some time anyway. Desreen and I had a family monogram designed for our wedding invitations consisting of ours and our son’s initials – DJB. We were planning on having another child and I’d made her promise that we were stuck on the same name whether we were blessed with a boy or a girl (her reading The Secret meant we were having a girl, apparently). Jackson took my maternal grandma’s maiden name as his Christian name and the next child would take Desreen’s. It began with B so I didn’t need to add another letter or have a difficult conversation with my future child about why I hadn’t gone under the needle on their behalf. So I now have the same design that was used for both our wedding and Desreen’s funeral etched over my heart for the rest of my days.

I’ve also continued to buy Desreen’s favourite flowers for the house. I say for the house, but really I know I’m still buying them for her and it helps make sure our home, once blessed with a woman’s touch, doesn’t start to smell of stinky boys.

I love my new name, I love my tattoo and I even love buying flowers because they bring Desreen’s memory back whenever I sign a letter, undress or walk into my living room. But I always know that the happiness I feel in any such posthumous gesture will quickly be followed by sadness that she isn’t here to give me a gold star.

7 comments on “posthumous gestures

  1. Helen Parker
    January 11, 2013

    I like your ‘Ink’ me..

  2. Tammy Tanguay
    January 16, 2013

    You go, the hurt never ever goes away,And her memeroy will be alive for ever. I know amy very good she lives in my home town. I am so sorry for your lost, May she rest in peace, And this is something that we live with every day. And I post every up date on amy, And I am real sure that she dosen’t remember what happend and that her best friend passed along. You r A very strong person And I am so glad you changed your names. And A wise dession on your new tatoo, Good for you. All my prayers Will be with you and Amy forever, RIP Desreen

  3. Bill Forchion
    January 16, 2013

    Your strength is amazing. your words are moving. Thank you for sharing. May you continue to love and be loved.

  4. Fi Fi
    February 14, 2013

    I have just watched you on This Morning and I think you are such an inspiration. Your love for your child and your wife is so apparent and the fact that you can find the time and energy to want to help others is just so wonderful. I am going to share your blog with someone who I know it will help.

  5. Andrea
    February 14, 2013

    Am passing your details on to a friend of ours who lost his wife last month, I also just watched you on This Morning which was so great because I read an article by you just after she died and felt it was much too early for him to go on your site but I forgot your name and had been looking for you for the past week so I’m so glad you were on today. All the best to you and your little boy and well done for this. Men don’t always get enough support in these cases and find it hard to ask for help.

  6. Paul Franks
    May 12, 2014

    Hey Ben, good job with the book. Will definitely be downloading to kindle. Film deal in the offing? Anyway, guess what, my wife died in traumatic circumstances – suppose I wouldn’t be here otherwise. November 2012, leukaemia diagnosed, missed flight back to UK (we were in Saudi Arabia), coma, stroke, epileptic fit, brain haemorrhage, agree to turn off life support – all in less than 72 hours. 6 weeks off for funeral etc in England then back in Jeddah with my 12 year old adopted daughter who has serious defiance issues. So 18 months on, the PTSD is going nicely, have ‘episodic memory’ deficits I only just discovered today. Johnny Cash ‘Hurt’ on loop. No real network to talk to about issues apart from school counsellor (I’m a teacher). So there you go. good luck to you and your son Ben

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This entry was posted on January 9, 2013 by and tagged , , .
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