A story of grief by a man and a boy
At Desreen’s funeral, the vicar who married us said something that really stuck with me. As he held up a card from Liberty that she’d sent him some weeks earlier, he said, “Before she died things like this were quite nice, but really they were just stuff. Yet now they have become treasured memories – things to hold in our hearts forever.”
I have come to learn that there was never a truer word spoken.
The night Desreen was killed I was driven home by the police holding three things. My son’s little hand and my wife’s engagement and wedding rings. I placed her wedding ring straight next to mine on my little finger and it hasn’t left my hand since.
When I saw my best friend’s dad, who was widowed during Christmas 2011, at Desreen’s funeral he was also wearing his late wife’s ring in exactly the same way. I guess it’s probably quite a common gesture because a ring is such an eternal symbol of love and unity.
But it’s the little treasures that continue to reveal themselves to me, both thrilling and flooring me in equal measure.
Desreen liked to call the the two of us twins. Her cousin text me the other day saying the same thing, “especially when there was trouble to be had,” he remarked. While we didn’t look strikingly similar, we were able to fit into each other’s skinny jeans, socks, knitwear and sportswear. In fact, a jumper she bought just before she died has since become my favourite despite my son scolding me for wearing it. “Take it off Daddy, it Mummy’s”, he shouts loyally.
She also owned a better running backpack than me, so that is now glued to me every time I train. I’d never properly unpacked it until this week though, so the first time I took it to the gym I reached inside for my headphones and pulled out a pair of her knickers. I haven’t checked yet, but I don’t think they offer quite the same sound quality as my Sennheisers.
The funny thing is, I now pack and unpack that bag every day but I just can’t bring myself to remove her smalls. I’ve even imagined the look I’d get if some big butch dude in the gym ever noticed them fall out, and I just don’t care. In fact, I probably kind of want it to happen because I know how much it would make her laugh and I can hear the exact pitch of her mischievous giggle ringing in my ears. In many ways that’s more precious to me than the white gold and diamonds she unwittingly bequeathed me that cold night in November.