A Tale of Two Birchboxes

As the sadiversary approaches, I’ve had Birchbox on my mind. The last thing that Terry ever bought me was a six-month subscription to Birchbox and a bottle of Phillip Kingsley Elasticizer for my 29th birthday two months before he died. I had not renewed my Birchbox subscription after we pledged to not spend any money for a year to pay off our debts and he said he’d rather not listen to me complaining about not having any more Birchboxes for the rest of the year so he renewed my subscription for me. When my last box arrived in January, four months after Terry died, I cried as I would never again receive a present from him. As I approach surviving the first, horrible year of widowhood, I find myself thinking that I deserve a medal. I should get one of those for completing my first half marathon next weekend, but I also deserve a special something to recognise this unwanted milestone. I  bought myself a few treats in Birmingham last weekend while out with friends but ever since I heard that Birchbox had set up a pop-up boutique in Selfridge’s in London I’ve had my eye on buying myself a Birchbox from Terry as a treat for the sadiversary. The boutique shuts the 28 September and so when I arranged to meet my friend Erin in London I asked that she meet me at the Birchbox shop in Selfridges.

The Birchbox shop at Selfridges
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Birchbox #1

While I was picking the six samples to create my own custom Birchbox I received a text from my housemate that a package had arrived for me. While having a lovely day out with a friend on the most beautiful day that September has yet offered us here in the UK, I forgot about the package until I arrived home this evening to find this:

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The Mysterious Package
Birchbox #2

In addition to the pop-up boutique in London, Birchbox’s website has offered a Birchbox x Selfridges limited edition box for those who can’t get to London. I recognised it immediately as I had eyed it up on multiple occasions before I ended up travelling to London this weekend. Also in the box were a lovely scented lotion and a gorgeous bar of French soap. At first I thought that I had caved in to temptation and somehow forgotten about it – this is completely within the realm of possibilities these days – but I checked my bank account and I did not buy anything from Birchbox this month. I have no idea who sent this box to me – Erin is convinced it’s from Terry and I’m not entirely sure she’s wrong. But somehow I started the day with no Birchboxes and have ended up with two as an ultimate surprise! The contents of each box are different but equally gorgeous and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have so many goodies to pamper myself with on the rough nights ahead. image-3 To whoever my Birchbox angel is, thank you for this lovely gift. I know it’s not from really from Terry, but he would be so pleased that something nice has happened for me having watched me struggle so much this month. image-4

Grieving As A Group Activity

 September continues to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month as the sadiversary approaches. 

 

On Sunday I had the honour of attending the dedication of the Aynho Play Park in the village in which Terry was born and raised to the Terry Benbow Memorial Play Park. A member of the local council proposed the dedication last year and it was passed unanimously by members the local council, most of whom knew and loved my husband and his family. The news itself was so amazing. As a little boy Terry used to spend a lot of time playing in this park with his sisters. If you had told little Terry that someday this park would be his he would never have believed it in a million years. But I suppose he could never have imagined the events of last September, nor could any of us. 

 

Terry’s family designed and purchased the most beautiful monument that has ever been made and had it installed last month, where it has remained under cover waiting for Sunday. I met his family for lunch at his parents house and they asked me to unveil the monument, which meant a lot to me. We made our way over to the Play Park early and I was completely overwhelmed by the support shown and the people who had given up their day to attend. His fellow Scout Leaders who he loved as his family were there, most all of his extended family, many of the scouts that he had worked with had shown up, many wearing their Scout uniforms, members of the local village and people he had worked with in motorsport were all there. 

As I stood at the front near the monument with Terry’s father my eyes scanned the crowds and everyone was in tears as we talked about and remembered Terry and it hit me: all of these people love my husband and they all miss him so much it hurts. And that realization meant a lot to me.

Grief is a very selfish emotion and on the bad days I often feel that there is no one who can know the pain that I feel at the loss of Terry. Logically I know this is not true, but I feel it nonetheless. I felt humbled, awed and just plain pleased that so many others were there to show their love and support to grieve publicly at the devastating loss of Terry. I felt honoured that so many miss my amazing husband and know that it is a testament to the amazing man that he was the amazing goodness with which he lived his life that shone every day that he was with us. 

I was overwhelmed with emotion and unable to say a thing but I was able to unveil this beautiful tribute to my husband:

  

 

 

Isn’t it beautiful?  Terry could never have designed anything better if he had tried and I am grateful to his family for having this made. 

When it was unveiled all of the children present were invited to come and play with the monument and they swarmed it and climbed on it just as it was designed to do. The sight of so many children playing with Terry’s memorial in his park overwhelmed me. 

After the dedication we gathered for tea and coffee at the village pavilion and it was really nice to spend time simply remember Terry with others who loved him while also reminded of how many did love him. It somehow lessened the burden that I often feel I bear and the temporary relief was lovely. 

Last week I received a call from a local bereavement charity asking if I would be interested in attending a local bereavement support group. It will meet once a week in the evenings and will consist of people how have been bereaved by a variety of people, not just spouses. I signed up immediately. I am nervous for the first session as I don’t know what to expect and also it is soon after the first sadiversary and I still don’t know how I will cope with that and I fear the worst, but perhaps grieving as a group activity is a good way to go about this? 

The support that I received on Sunday was indescribable and I am hopeful that my new bereavement support group can offer me some much needed support as I pass into my second year of widowhood. 

Words of Encouragement

I ran 10.5 miles this morning – the longest i’ve ever run in my entire life. I did really well up until about 7 miles in when my energy was running out and I began to struggle. Help me run these last three miles, Terry I asked, as I often talk to him while I run. Seconds later an elderly gentleman that I’d already jogged past three or four times said to me Blimey! You’re doing well this morning, aren’t you? I smiled, thanked him and jogged for another three miles. I firmly believe that had Terry not intervened that man may have let me jog on by but those few kind words carried me until the end of my run.

September is not a good month for me and in a few short weeks I will be forced to have survived an entire year without my Terry. Even writing those words has reduced me to tears. I never wanted to survive a year without Terry, I have prayed for death on many a dark night so that I could be with him again (don’t worry, as I have discussed with my counselor I would not bring it about, but would welcome it if it came). I am nearing the finish line of this horrible, horrible year and could, quite frankly, use some words of encouragement. Any that you have to spare.

I have been keeping myself ridiculously busy as if constantly working, running, socialising could delay the inevitable. Perhaps there is a point of exhaustion where I would be too tired to grieve? I doubt it, for even as I lie in my bed at night exhausted the tears always find me. As the dreaded sadiversary approaches I find myself tearing up much more easily than in previous months and my grief is swelling and refuses to be ignored.

I have spent every day this month recalling each and every detail of that day in 2014 when I had Terry. I have a horrible memory and so this is difficult for me, but I just long to be with his memories. I am cherishing every remaining day that I can remember what I did with Terry one year ago for in a few short weeks time will have separated us farther still and I can’t bear to think of how long remains until I can see him again. I am terrified that I will live to the age of 100 having had to spend 71 years without him. One year is too much, seventy-one of them is cruel. A fellow widow wrote I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with you, not knowing that you would spend the rest of your life with me instead. 

I may not write much in September, I may need some time to myself to grieve as I see fit. I may regain some strength in October after I have survived the one year, but I do not pretend to know what the future holds. I know that I survived my run this morning and it has helped me to believe that I can run this half marathon with Terry’s help and that will hopefully carry me through.

Thank you all for your support.