Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

fashion weak

London Fashion Week kicked off today. If you’re ever in the capital when it’s on you really know about it because you can hear the constant clattering of stilettos, because you can’t get a cab and because everyone in the city is at least 100 per cent better dressed than usual. When Desreen was alive I always knew when London Fashion Week had come around because, for just a few days, my life completely changed. I’d find myself accompanying her to fashion shows by designers I knew nothing about and at parties playing it completely uncool around the vaguest of celebrities. One year, after three consecutive drunken nights out, which built towards one almighty hangover, I remember telling Desreen that I wouldn’t go out again if the Queen herself called us to invite us for Sunday lunch at Buckingham Palace. An hour later her boss called and invited us to Claridge’s for dinner instead. ‘Oh, go on then’, I said with little hesitation.

Now that was a night out. As ever, Desreen managed to talk us into a party that we weren’t invited to in her very own unique way: an awe-inspiring combination of guest list skills, which started with childish charm and playing dumb before moving onto absolute self confidence and unbudging insistence. I never saw anyone turn her away from any door anywhere in the world. This particular night it was worth every second of the cringing embarrassment that I suffered in her hands – her powers of persuasion bagged us a table just a few feet away from Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, who was serenading her posse whilst straddling a baby grand piano. This would have been a story I’d have told all of my colleagues at work the next day had I made it in. But champagne, Sundays and 4 a.m. finishes have a tendency to make Monday mornings somewhat unmanageable.

I guess for many people the back to school week signals the end of summer but for me, for the last eight years, it’s always been London Fashion Week that has reminded me that the season’s about to change. So when I switched on the news this evening and saw a representative from the British Fashion Council discussing the benefits of this week’s events to the UK economy, I knew that a difficult time was afoot. London’s fashion scene was about to make me feel weak.

I’ve had a feeling for some time that as autumn/winter apparel hit the high street I’d be hit by crashing lows. Desreen was killed in November last year when the cold and dark was broken only by central heating and a few hours of greylight. And now, as I sit in a chilly house with the rain lashing down against the windows, the idea of this time coming back round is playing heavy on my mind.

I’m doing my best to avoid the slump: I’ve quit drinking, I’m eating a clean diet and I’ve signed up for a half marathon to help fill the bleak mornings and dark nights with training . But however positively I may try live my life I still need to face my wife’s birthday in three weeks, my son’s first without his mum in five and the anniversary of her death in eight. I’m dreading the emotional impact of this winter so much but I guess all I can do is follow in my wife’s fashion-forward footsteps. And like Desreen watching the catwalk at a London Fashion Week show in September, I for one am going to be looking forward to spring/summer 2014.

10 comments on “fashion weak

  1. sharron
    September 13, 2013

    Thoughts are with you all every step of the way Ben x

    • Charmaine
      September 13, 2013

      Ben my thoughts are with you. Desreen is always with you. At the heart of you. Every day is hard when you lose your soulmate. You are blessed to have loved and been loved by her. Although she has physically gone she still enriches your life. As long as you walk the earth you have experienced a deep and wonderful love that some have no idea what it’s like.

      I dreaded my silver wedding anniversary, our joint birthday which fell the following day and then the one year anniversary less than 3 weeks later. But got through them with understanding, love and support from our daughters, my family and friends. You will no doubt cry as I did but I also smiled and laughed in equal measure because despite the fact your wonderful partner has gone she has left you a wonderful son and endless memories for you to cherish. So do something fun, just like she would have planned if she was here and enjoy Jackson for the pair of you. Whatever you do, do what comes natural.

      Good luck x

  2. SHB
    September 13, 2013

    Remember how you were dreading the funeral, then dreading after the funeral then dreading the next thing…..this is just another first and it will be ok, not great, not tear free, not unemotional but “this too will pass” You can’t head off the birthdays or anniversary so how about planning something to do on them,in commemoration, its will act as a distraction but give you some feeling of control and ownership. Obviously this is just a suggestion, and that what ever or how ever the days turn out you will get through. Every blessing to you and Jackson, you are doing amazingly well! x

  3. Carrie Dunne
    September 13, 2013

    Our birthdays and our wedding anniversary are all together within a week of each other in January – we were pleased with ourselves as we thought the celebrations would liven up a miserable month each year. Oh the irony! I’ve lived through one January without my wonderful husband and it was so so hard. I wish there were words to lighten the load for you and ease all the conflicting emotions.
    I do wish you well and wish Jackson a very happy birthday. X

  4. Curving Toward Joy
    September 14, 2013

    I had a similar moment when I realized football season was upon me here in the US. My husband died in April and this summer has mostly been a vague blur of hot days and caring for my daughter. But when I realized his beloved Dallas Cowboys were getting ready to play the first game of the season, I fell apart. How can they play football when he’s not here to watch? I never watched a game before we married, but after ten years it becomes a habit, so I sat up Sunday night, crying with every field goal and fumble. It was such a crashing low, as you say, and hit me much harder than I expected. Thinking of you and your own little one…

  5. anyapilates
    September 14, 2013

    I really feel for you, anniversaries are tough even without the weather closing in…the positivity of summer always leaves a feeling of loss when the wet cold takes its place and with these landmarks it’s only going to be more pronounced. It sometimes feels like two steps forward three steps back in this journey, but try to remember there will be brighter times ahead too. You’ll get through this tunnel x

  6. Bill Wright
    September 14, 2013

    I’m really feeling the change of season too.
    I remember when we had the first hot day of the year in Spring, it felt like a kick in the guts, Mother Nature cruelling letting me know that time rumbles on regardless of the fact that the Sunshine of my life had been so shockingly ripped away from me in wintry January.

    I’d got used to the Sun and began to feel grateful for its serotonin boost and now the onset of early autumnal gloom has sent me into a spiral of despair. How can it be 8 months already!? How can Anni’s twin be 3 next month when she is only 2 years and 3 months!?

    On a lighter note, fantastic supermodel story!

  7. Katy Hill
    September 14, 2013

    AMAZING post. I never know what to say, but I think saying nothing is way worse than saying the wrong thing. You have so much support x

      September 21, 2013

      Thanks Katy. I think it’s probably always best to say something rather than say nothing if that’s what you want to do xx

  8. Naomii Chaplain
    September 19, 2013

    What Katy said. xxx

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