Goooood morning all,
Something really special happened almost a week ago now, but I needed some time to digest it.
Over a year in advance…
I couldn’t resist a dazzling designer donation, immaculate, glistening pristinely in the window of a boutique where proceeds are given to the less fortunate.
Designer dress (my size, dream shape) ✅ Affordability ✅ Charitable cause ✅
If my friends and family could sum up what my tatste and values were combined, they’d make this equation! I’m always bargain hunting (it’s in my blood), love a good charity find, and have accumulated some pretty beautiful dresses from these types of places, vintage markets and carboots!
I know not everyone is close with their mums or would choose to share this experience with theirs, but it’s something I’m sure I would have done had I been given the chance. I also know not everyone is a weddingy person – but I am.
They’ll be other weddingy blogs in the future, I’m sure. One at least about wedding dress shopping with regards to body shape/image and eating disorders if I’m brave enough. For now though, I’m going to focus on bereavement.
Let me walk you through the story..🚶🏼♀️(slightly longer blog than usual, go on…grab a cuppa!)
I’m not actively looking for dresses as I get married next summer, but as an excitable weddingy person, I follow a lot of designers/boutiques that pique my fancy online. I’ve also popped to a sample sale to get a sense of what type of beautiful gowns await me.
On one cool Friday evening I’m walking in a trendy (I doubt anyone uses that word anymore!) area of North London. Kind of a mix between Shoreditch and Richmond if that helps Londoners put it in perspective! If you can understand, Richmond is a well to do area and often in their charity shops you’ll find some designer buys at a good but still kinda up there (for me!) price. The boutiques in this area were of that calibre and there in the window was just what I dreamt of but with a little twist.
I check the store opening times for the following day (knowing a beauty like that won’t last 2 mins in a place like that!) and when I get home I tell my grandma -dad’s mum- the story, showing her a photo snap. An aunt of mine happened to call and before we knew it the trip was arranged. Early Sat morn pick up and off to the shop the following day we were to go!
I arrive a good few minutes before it’s due to open and wait outside to be the first in. My grandma and aunt are more patient browsing next door and we’re all full of excitement.
The store manager is delighted to hear I’m bright and early for the wedding dress in the window and rounds up the team to make it into a special experience. As I’m whisked into the changing room with one of the staff, others are busy putting out chairs for my grandma so that it’s like a little catwalk for when I come out.
Meanwhile, this was happening for me:
Before I even got in the changing room I had a rush. A wave of overwhelm. It’s difficult to describe. Some wedding or general cynics may argue that it can’t be that big a deal buying the dress or getting married in general but for me, it is and it was. As a reflector, I’m strongly aware of where I’ve come from. My story. My journey. I don’t believe in leaving the past completely in the past because I believe it can shape who we are and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Here I am buying a wedding dress when 8 years ago I was in hospital being diagnosed fed meds and resting from a breakdown. I felt I was a burden. I felt connection to my mum through the depression. I didn’t see a future beside being the lost troublesome lass.
I was about to have another (I’m not pining all success on a wedding here, I also have a much stronger sense of identity and a career!) defining moment in my life that kicks my inner self critic and low confidence aside and says, “Hey. Look at you, confirming you can create a future you are deserving of and nurture relationships despite your lack of trust heavily influenced by that awful life event”.
You see, because death by suicide is sudden and you’ll never ever have closure, forming and sustaining relationships (of many a kind, family, friends, loved ones) proves difficult. I pushed people away / I held them extra close / I was convinced everyone I had an attachment with would leave at a drop of a penny. Just like mum di(e)d.
Mum left. Mum left. 😦 as I was getting changed I could feel myself tearing up and as my ears picked up on the already emotion full staff and my family excited for my moment I was overcome with a yearning for mum like no other. This is the mother daughter moment we won’t share. At least not on planet earth. The store assistant caught sight of me and I could just about mutter, “I miss my mum.”‘ “I lost my mum, too”, she sobbed, and before I knew it we were cuddling in the little cubicle and trying to cry quietly before we joined the ‘audience’ who were there to share my moment. I knew as soon as I stepped in, that this might be the dress. All I wanted to do was to give my mum that moment too.
“She’s here with you in spirit, my love. You’ve got your other women out there who love you, they’re there for you. Are you ready?”
I wiped my tears away. Took a deep breath. Out I strode.
Gasps and tears filled the store from the staff to the customers to my family. The ones who were there. The ones who are there.
I cannot describe in words (and I’m pretty alright with them!) how much how much!!! I needed a hug from my mum in that shop. How much I needed her there to celebrate with me. To hold me. To be excited for my future with a man she’ll never meet.
What I know I do have though. Despite everything. Despite all the pain and loss. Is a beautiful family. A loving network. People who understand that buying a wedding dress wasn’t just buying a wedding dress.
People that appreciate this story and it’s meaning to me.
I’m getting married next year, mum. And I wish you could be there. I wish. I’ll decorate with sunflowers so you’re there all around me.
I love you mum. I always will. No matter how many moments you’ll miss.
Abs x 💙 x