A story of grief by a man and a boy

engaging memories

I’m sitting in the spot in Regent’s Park where Desreen and I got engaged four years ago this week. It’s a day much like that one. Warm but overcast. Close. The creatures are behaving much the same as they did that day too. Spring has sprung and the park’s geese are overzealously backing the dogs back off their offspring. I’m smiling as they try to defend their territory, wondering what the hell I was thinking bringing Desreen, the world’s greatest hater of all creatures great and small, to this spot for that special moment.

Only two things are of notable difference.  There are no overconfident Camden squirrels attempting to steal my lunch. And I’m alone.

Still, something has drawn me here today. I’ve known I had to come all week. I’d decided to pop the question here because I wanted to keep our memories close. I’ve never thought that the best times are always the ones from home. Now I’m so grateful that I made that decision because I can come back to this spot whenever I wish.

It’s the first time though. We never came back as a couple. I guess we were too busy making new memories to always concentrate on the past. In grief there are those who will tell you to do the same. To move on and concentrate on the future. But today I need to look back. I need to connect with my wife again. Although somehow sitting here lamenting over a bottle fizzy water isn’t having quite the same effect as beaming over a glass fizzy wine. Yet the sparkle’s still there.

Perhaps there comes a moment of realisation that memories are all you really ever have of a person who you’ve loved and lost. So I guess I have to take comfort in the fact that we were always so adept at making those.

Desreen on 20th June 2009, the day we got engaged

Desreen on 20th June 2009, the day we got engaged

9 comments on “engaging memories

  1. nornironman
    June 18, 2013

    Bar sentimental objects (personal items, photographs etc), as you say the memories are what we’re left with but I like to think that the after-effect of the individual(s) we’ve lost remains with us. Physically they might not be with us, but their influence IMHO can still be present in our behaviour, life choices, thought processes etc perhaps without actually being a conscious activity, particularly when individuals have been a key figure in our lives.

    Looking at your images of Desreen and your comments also got me thinking: I wonder how different dealing with bereavement is nowadays with the availability of photographs (for many people at least) compared to a few hundred years ago. Yes, portraits were available for the wealthy but what about the masses? – what was it like for people when such permanent reminders weren’t available and mental images of faces began to fade and couldn’t be re-affirmed by looking at a picture?


  2. binjameen
    June 18, 2013

    Hi Ben, you two really did make great memories, I was often exhausted just hearing about your joint energy. I like the fact that Regents Park is really safe from change, it will probably always be the same and be a place just for the both of you. did you know that Diane and I first met in regents park? She was cleaning a house and I went back to see her and we went for a picnic near the bandstand. I went back a couple of years ago. The stark contrast between the unchanging park, and my own physical ageing was a real shock. I could vividly picture us as two twenty year olds sitting on the grass, but couldn’t integrate them with the people we are now. People often equate loss with change, but our stories show that to be nonsense. For you there is an aching gap, for us the young people have been replaced by two old folk, wondering how we got here, and who both think about you, Dessie and Jackson every day.

    Yours Ben and Diane

      June 18, 2013

      That’s the same spot where we got engaged. How nice that we have that shared place x

  3. Christy
    June 18, 2013

    I completely relate to you both and appreciate what you said David, about their influence being ever present. Just this weekend I found myself tackling a job that I haven’t undertook in many years because my life partner- husband- did all the lawn work, and since his death, my son. My son is currently working this summer on the other side of the continent, so I went about whacking weeds that had grown knee high in areas. Afterward I was overcome with a strong sense that Larry was with me, so proud of what I had accomplished- as if I was experiencing deju vue; I knew he would laugh with delight and pamper me the remainder of the day if only he could. The smile that had come to my face turned to tears, as is frequently the case with smiles. Happiness is meant to be shared he always said; he was right.

  4. Carrie Dunne
    June 18, 2013

    Beautifully said, Ben. Carrie x

  5. Azize Ethem
    June 18, 2013

    I am a widow. Four years a widow. I have a store of 20 years of memories to soften the loss. After four years alone I have learned to smile again and sometimes laugh, but even in a crowded room of wonderful people I am alone. I am always alone.

  6. Carmina
    June 21, 2013

    Really nice you went back, it must have been hard. Lovely picture of Desreen, she really was beautiful. I worked with her and Anthony in the McDonald days in Havant. Desreen looked pulled off the McDonald’s uniform :0)

      June 21, 2013

      Makes me laugh every time. Apparently she asked if she could clean tables because see preferred the uniform x

  7. marymshenouda
    June 21, 2013

    12 June 2009 was our engagement too, but thousands of miles away in a small ancient church in Egypt. 23 December 2012 was our last day.

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