Monday 7 October 2019

Six Steps - the Thin Line Between Life and Death.

Hello everyone.

It has been a minute since I have written here now. I did not intend for this - I have half a dozen posts half written here - but it is hard. This platform was Kinga's - not mine - to share her passions, views, and occasionally, her vulnerability. This place gave her an outlet and a sense of purpose. Now, she is gone - and this space cannot be used for that any more. I have written tributes, and brought light to some of her best posts (and fully intend to do so again). I have touched on  my own grief - and may do so again in the future... But I feel this space is really her legacy. I don't wish for it to die - but I do not want my own self or agenda to fully take it over. It is a difficult balance. This place was her baby - and for as long as I live, I want it to stay that way.

But as I just said... It is hard. It is hard to accept that we live in a world that is void of her light - a world where she cannot share her voice or create any form of direct impact. Outside of this place... Her primary legacy will be her death. If the general public remember her at all - that is what they will remember her for. I think that is why this space - the space where she shared herself - is so goddamn important. This place will live on for as long as the internet remains - and I am alive to pay for the domain.

What inspired me to make this post is unavoidably, a very deeply depressing sentiment. last week, I went up to the roadside memorial - I go there every month or so, to maintain it and keep it visible to everyone who drives there. In the early days, I found comfort in doing this - it felt like I was honouring her. But as the shock of her death has worn off somewhat, it has really become what it is - the place where she took her final breaths on this Earth. A place that is marked - still to this day - by the faded remains of her chalk outline.

Well, on this occasion, I did something I haven't done before. I counted the steps she would have needed to take to make it to the safety of the bridge path. Whilst the criminal investigation is still - over nine months on - awaiting a formal charge, and I can't really talk about the circumstances (although I have a hell of a lot to say once I can)... I can say that if she'd have managed to takes six more steps up the hill with her bike, she would still be here today. I have been told that 'what ifs' are par for the course with grief - but it is a truly a - bordering on impossible - set of factors that brought her and the driver to that exact place at that precise time. If she had been just two or three seconds faster - or the driver just two or three seconds slower - had she been able to make those six measly steps - she would still be here. She would be writing here instead of me.

I guess the point of this post is to highlight the fragility and unpredictability of life. To know that we are not safe - that are our actions have consequence. I doubt there are many that go out with the intent to kill - but there are many that think it won't be them that kills someone. No healthy person wakes up expecting to die - but it can happen to anyone, at any time, in reality.

The same day I visited the roadside, on the road before the one she was killed on, I saw two separate drivers on their phones - one of whom very nearly hit me. These drivers inevitably did not go out with the express intent of killing anyone - but their actions could have. The man that killed Kinga - as easy as it is in my brain to villainise him as some deeply evil, moustache twirling madman - almost certainly didn't intend to kill her. But he did. One man's actions took the next 50 or so years of a young woman's life - a young woman filled with so much potential - not long from starting her own family. A young woman that I loved more than words could ever express... And I am far from alone in feeling that way.

Since I last posted, Kinga would have turned 27. She didn't, though. Because she wasn't able to take six more steps. I spent her birthday with her at the cemetery. Playing music, drinking wine... Stuff we would have probably done anyway. She'd been go so long at that point that we hadn't even begun planning this day - not even slightly. I have no idea what we would have done. My own birthday was not too long after - and it was utterly meaningless without her. Had she made those six steps - these days would have had so much more meaning.

I try not to drown in what ifs. It's hard though. So hard. Six steps. Two, three seconds? There are so many ways in which that could have been made up. I could have influenced it too, really. No one could have known - except perhaps the driver - but her death is so preventable. It makes no sense - and even as we approach month 10 - the reality of it is that it never will. It only gets more senseless and confusing as time goes by.

Thank you all for reading. I have been hesitant to share this next picture around - but I figure anyone who has read down this far cares about her enough to see it. This is her headstone. I pretty much spend all of my spare time here. The words are mine - as are many of the decorations. The rest are from her parents... She is here now. The words don't do her justice really - but they are the best I could muster to describe someone as incredible as her.

Hold on to those you love. And act with consideration towards those you don't. It is all we can do, in the end. And never forget Kay's life - much less her death. 

'til the end of time, Cub.


Monday 10 June 2019

Kinga + Sakima - Our Origin Story.

Hello everyone.

In just a couple of days, it will be six months since Kay was killed. In that time, I have written several posts - some in tribute, some just musings. But all are a little negative - naturally. Whilst this does absolutely reflect my own feelings at this time,  it doesn't match the majority of what Kinga did in her little corner of the internet. I am intimately familiar with this blog - I have proof read every single post since the original post - since the perfume blog she started before this in fact! But I wanted to write something a little more positive for a change; a little more in keeping with the general tone of her content. In truth, she could have written this post - and I almost wish she would have.

To that end, I am going to tell a story. It's quite a traditional one, really. A love story. Boy meets girl. It's not a story I have fully told before - we were both genuinely embarrassed about it! Kinga did want to write about us before a little more - but I wanted to stay in the shadows; not taint her beauty with my... Presence - keep some of our personal life private. So I don't think she would disapprove of me telling this story. It would have been our 10 year anniversary on the 29th of May - so it seems fitting to celebrate us, in a sense. Even if it is completely bittersweet to do so. So, here is how it all happened...

Yeah we're totally not cool kids, right?!

Kinga and I met online. There. I said it. It's been the most open secret ever that we totally denied for years to anyone who asked! We started talking in 2009 - and dating someone from online was still a little taboo back then. We actually met on a website called... Okay, full disclaimer, these were peak emo times... 'Vampirefreaks'. Yep. We did that. She was 'Mochamuffin' (always damn cute), and I was, tragically 'The Ninth Storm' (what was I thinking again?). She commented on my profile, just after I had signed up (for the second time, having initially quit the site the year before... There is an interesting story behind that actually, which I shan't say here), and said 'cute cute cute... *fangirl sigh*'. I'd been called a lot of things - but cute was certainly not one of them (although everyone got a level of attention on that site for some reason). She would later say she was drawn to my profile as my picture was of me holding my (at that time) one year old sister - a lot of people thought I was her dad back then! But yeah, we got talking, and started talking on MSN (yes - we existed in the era where MSN was the most important thing in existence!).

We hit it off pretty quickly, and soon began talking every day - and on the phone. Actually, on our first call, Kinga wanted to write a script for it, because she was so nervous! In fairness, she had only been speaking English for a year at the time - not that you could tell at all - she was already fluent when we met. I've never been much of a talker - but we would talk for long hours - all day, about everything. We were just on the same wavelength to such a crazy degree - I've never met anyone that that has been true for. We arranged to meet properly (felt like we already had at that point), and we set the date to the 29th May 2009 - during a half term (we were both in college at the time). I saved up all the money I had left over from EMA during college to buy a ticket - and was so broke afterward I couldn't even afford to buy flowers! But still, I traveled 5 1/2 hours each way (casually lying to my mother about what I was doing, I might add!) in one day to spend about 8 hours with her.

Kinga, about two years into our relationship - and a bit sick of me taking pictures! How did I get so lucky again?

I wasn't in a good place mentally or physically at that time - I didn't look after myself much then. But the night before I must have spent hours in the mirror trying to look presentable - something I had never done before  - or since, really. I remember getting the bus to the train station at the crack of dawn that day, and there was a man who I sometimes spoke to on the bus (I used to get it daily for college). I told him I had a date - and I specifically recall him saying 'who knows, this could be the beginning of the rest of your life'. I didn't see him after that - or I could have told him just how right he was.

And then, after a long train ride, we met. And it wasn't awkward, miraculously. Not at all. It was like we'd known each other for years. She gave me a bear early on (yes, the girl gave the boy a bear!) and told me that it was called 'Little Kinga' - and that I had to look after her... And to this day, I still do (literally one of my most cherished possessions). We didn't have any money between us, but she had already planned on where we would go. She was always so organised; even then!

This was where the bench was originally - where everything truly began.

We got some drinks at the local Tesco - she introduced me to this polish drink that was an apple and mint flavoured thing... I didn't have the heart to tell her that I utterly despise apple AND mint - and I didn't want to appear fussy - so I drank it (and may have casually tipped some away). We would later laugh about that many, many times. We wound up walking along the beach a little way, before stopping at a bench.

It was a grubby little sheltered bench, coated in graffiti - the kind that are common at seafronts (it was removed a few years later). We talked some more, and then it just kind of happened. She came over and kissed me. My first kiss, actually. It lasted for a long time, and legitimately gave me neck ache, but it happened. And that was when I knew that everything would change. I think that might have been the first time I had ever experienced pure, unfiltered happiness. And it didn't stop there.

A few random pictures she took on the hill that day. Never shared these before!

Afterward we carried on up the beach - just laughing, smiling, joking. We tackled each other on the sand. Just happy and young. I recall an old woman giving us a really big smile as we passed her. We carried on to our destination - a relatively secluded hill, next to a very old church. We spent hours up there. That place became synonymous with our relationship; we would make regular pilgrimages back  there. We spent hours there, just being happy. The sun was gorgeous that day, whilst we lay on the grass. Just talking. And making out, of course. It was a perfect day. We had many since - but few days compare to how pure that one was. I eventually had to go, of course - and there were tears that it had to happen. But we both knew it was a beginning, not an end.

At the end of our first date. That sod on the right is sitting on Cloud Nine!

We continued to be long distance for about two years - visiting each other every other weekend, and on holidays. When Kinga started university (Kinga started university the year after myself - she did an extra year at college), we moved in together. I remember, especially in the early days people would not believe that I was with her - because she was so beautiful and I was always just... not... that. She attracted a lot of male attention - but despite that, she chose me, of all people! For some unknown reason, I was the one who got the girl. We were always for each other, so I was never threatened by it all - it was just something I could rub into the faces of all the assholes who had ever 'bullied' me before then (I was always thick-skinned, but it was satisfying as hell in so many ways). It was hard, being long distance, but we always had an end date planned to it - and that got us through those times. It wasn't always perfect, our relationship - we certainly had our issues, and we both regretted becoming so serious so early on - love can make you irrational. But once we moved in together, we stayed living together up until her death.

So it was our 10 year anniversary on the 29th of May - the anniversary of that perfect day. We were due to be in Cyprus - but I could neither afford nor face doing that alone. But I had to mark the day - it was too important. It was a day Kinga was excited for - had planned, and we had talked about for quite a while now. A huge landmark. Marking it alone... Was just so wrong, on so many levels. To mark it, I retraced the steps of our first date, as well as spending some time with her (she is now resting at the crematorium), and tidying her roadside memorial. It rained that day. Fitting really - considering how glorious the weather was on that day 10 years ago.

I released this on the Hill, where we were on our first date... 
... And off it went. Hopefully to find her.

We had always celebrated our anniversaries. If we were at a beach for it, it became a tradition to write it in the sand. I didn't get to put the big '10' in Cyprus - but I still wrote it, near to where it all began. It stopped raining whilst I did it - and it started again right after I was done. Funny, that.

Some of the previous years. 5 Years was in Newquay, 8 years was in Portugal, and 9 years was in Weston, just before we went to Tenerife.

I think it is easy to fall into a trap when someone dies unexpectedly - to remember them for the circumstances of their death - not their life. Everybody knows the famous serial killers, for example, but few know the names of their victims. Whilst Kinga's case is not quite as dramatic as that, there is still court down the line - and within that I suspect that the focus will inevitably be on the manner of her death, and the character of the accused. It isn't right - in my mind - that this is the case. I think it is important to focus on the innocent party - the person they were, and the impact they made whilst they walked the planet. I think, as a society, it is something we need to draw more importance to.

Thank you all for reading. All of your messages - both public and private - mean the world to me. Keeping the ripples of her life going keeps me going, ultimately. She was truly the best partner in life (and in crime) I could have ever asked for. I know she was special to some of the people reading this too - whether they met her or not. I simply hope that she is at peace now, wherever she may or may not be... And I would like to thank you all again for supporting her with her with this blog - and with her passions.

One more picture before I finish... I just love this one.

I hope they have good music where you are now...

'Til the end of time, cub.

Sunday 5 May 2019

A Celebration of Kay's Blogging Journey - Part 1.

Hello everyone. I mentioned in the last post I wrote here, that I was considering writing a post highlighting some of what I consider to be Kinga's best posts on this blog - and I am going to start doing that today. I envisage this being a job for more than one post - there's three years worth of content here after all. I was here from the start of this blog - we talked about this often, and I read every post before or as they came out.

I think when remembering someone, it is easy to to do so by looking exclusively through our own lens at how we saw them - to tell their story as we saw it through our eyes. It is natural to do so, in a way - we tell the world about how we saw them, because they have lost the ability to show the world who they are for themselves. Kinga, however, was a blogger - she has given herself a voice that will last long beyond her death. It is my duty to highlight this voice to as many people as are willing to listen.

I'm lucky in the regard that this blog exists - a lasting testament to who Kinga was. It shows off all of her central traits - her intelligence, beauty, creativity and passion. Further to that, it occasionally reveals her vulnerability, and her deeply veiled strength. These are the cornerstones of how I saw her -  I have to wonder if the rest of the world sees her that way too.

Anyone, here are the first round of posts I would like to highlight. This isn't a list in a traditional sense - there is no order to it, or anything like that - the ones featured in this post are generally no more or less than those I will feature in other posts These are just my opinions - which come with added context from my perspective.

'The £1 face!'

Let's start off with a pretty amusing one... This was a collaboration she agreed to with a cheap Poundland type makeup brand. One of the products they sent her arrived empty! But, Kinga being Kinga she reviewed the products anyway - hiding nothing at all. The brand were not pleased at all, and they asked her very abruptly to 'remove this part of the review immediately' (or something like that - it was very authoritative!). Kinga was very much about honesty in collaborations - she would never agree to ones that demanded a positive review, went against her interests (she was forever turning down fashion collaborations especially) and she would never hide the truth from her readers. This obviously meant that she did relatively few of these. In addition to this anecdote, this is a pretty amusing and original concept for a post, and highlights her values and personality well.

'What I got in Morocco + update about our trip!'

We went to Morocco for our 7 year anniversary, back in 2016. We both loved travelling - and wanted to travel so much more than we could ever afford to do. She alludes to it in the post - but this was a difficult holiday for us. We got lost over and over again in Marrakesh, and she was sexually harassed so many times (it is a cultural thing that really, really sucks). We were sworn at - even had stones thrown at us by some kids at one point. Her feet were also absolutely shredded by the end of the trip due to inappropriate footwear (every step was agony for her by the end). But she still found the enjoyment in it (especially when we went into the mountains - that was a truly amazing experience), and still reflected on it well. It is also notable as being the holiday where she decided to start Instagram properly - partly due to the picture above... And where she vowed to never go to another country like it (Sadly, Istanbul went off of our list of potential destinations after this).

Why I Lost Interest In Blogging & How To Get It Back

This is a post that I think can be useful to just about anyone who hits a wall with anything they do that is a labour of love. She may refer specifically to blogging - but her advice translates to so many different things. In all, this post shows Kinga's determination and grit with blogging - how she managed to keep going when she lost motivation. I personally find it - and her - inspiring. She always supported me with anything I wanted to do, especially career wise... I might refer back to this post when I eventually try to put my life back together again.

Forced Positivity In Blogging & Why It's Okay To Be Sad

Her honesty and bluntness shine in this post. She shows a willingness to break one of the chief conventions of this space. I think this might be the closest post she has to representing the Kinga I knew - someone who was an intelligent deep thinker, who stood on her own pedestal - even if she thought nobody would stand with her. She was constantly trying to improve her lot in life - to achieve something. This post highlights the struggle so many of us have - trying to gain relevance, and being deeply unhappy when we realise how small we are in reality... She words it better than I ever could.

The Algarve Diaries! Ocean, Beaches And Dolphin Watching!

Another travel post (this was our 8 year anniversary), but this one is special. Kinga adored Alvor, in Algarve. She was absolutely in her element here - she loved the ocean, beaches, cocktails - the lot. I've never seen her as happy with a place as she was here. If we were scattering her ashes instead of burying them, I would scatter them here. I love this post as she describes this so much - it is a post of pure joy... To the extent where she often talked about moving here as a dream.

Korean beauty haul!

I am kind of obsessed with the few videos that Kinga did. They were a lot of work, and didn't hit anything like the numbers that her posts  did - so she stopped. This... This is my favourite - even though it was a skincare video (it was a running joke between us that talking about skincare would always lull me to sleep - indeed, whenever I struggled to fall asleep she would often start talking about it!). This video showcases so much of her personality. It literally oozes with it. I love it, so much. It isn't just the words - it is how she says them, and her movements. They are all her mannerisms. And it is genuine. This one is special to me.

Decorating My Home with PosterLounge prints! Honest Review

Not much to say with this one - it was one of her best collaborations... And I still have these prints hanging in the living room of my new flat. I wouldn't have picked these (except the fox - she totally did pick that one for me), and they remind me of her every day.

Get ready with me - Autumn night out makeup

This is an old one. Kinga struggled with body image all of her life (you would never believe it to look at her - she was, as anyone can tell you, stunning), and she was insanely nervous about doing this one. But she did it - she was forever pushing herself out of her comfort zone. I won't pretend to understand all the makeup talk - but I can certainly appreciate how many times she put her beautiful face in this post - especially knowing her struggles.

I love tea! Current favourites =)

Another old one. She really did love tea. I still have a cupboard full of stuff that I will never drink (I never liked the stuff!), and a tonne of quirky/cute mugs she had. Just highlights some of the most random ideas she would have for posts, and one of her more quirky passions.

Any of her Perfume posts...

See here, here, here and here for some notable ones.

Anyone who read this blog, or who knew Kinga, knew that she was an authority on perfumery. Indeed, she collected an immense amount of them - even after she started selling a few, she still had about 170 bottles at the time of her death (her mother has put them all in a glass cabinet now - it is quite a sight to behold).

I think that these posts - and there are so, so many - highlight her biggest passion. Indeed, prior to Shoes and Glitter, she started a blog called 'Aromantics' - initially to talk about just perfume, and she posted a whole host of perfume reviews on the site Fragrantica - you can see her profile here, which includes an outdated list of her perfumes and some of her reviews. At the time of her death, she had started putting together ideas for a book on perfumery - noting that she disagreed with a lot of current perfume literature. It was her dream to have her own fragrance one day - and I have no doubt that it would have been amazing if she had done so. If there was something she didn't know about fragrances - it wasn't worth knowing. All of that knowledge is gone now, though... It is hard to truly understand how that can be.

In conclusion...

There are so, so many more posts I wish to highlight, but this list is already really long. I have enough material on this blog to do three or four of these - but this will do for now.

Thank you all for continuing to read this blog. It means the world to me that Kinga has some form of legacy after her senseless and utterly pointless end. On the 29th of May it is our 10 year anniversary - we had booked to go to Cyprus... I am struggling on an immense level  that I cannot even begin to describe right now - coming to terms with facing that huge milestone alone. I will probably write something around that time... But for now - thank you all for keeping the ripples of her life going, and please, never, ever forget her.

Monday 8 April 2019

"Life" after Kinga - the Early Days.

Hello everyone... Still seems wrong to not see posts on this blog start with 'hello jelly beans!' or similarly adorable things. It is even weirder to think that these are not her words. That these words are not filled with her energy and bursting with her personality. I hope she would be happy with my continued, more sombre posting on her blog... As I stated in the last post I made here, I would like to continue posting here to keep this space alive... To keep Kinga alive.

I would like to talk today about my own experience with grief. I am still early into this journey - it is a little under four months since she was killed. I don't claim to be an expert on the topic - my head still isn't particularly straight. But I hope that this may have an impact on those who choose to read it. My message to those that haven't experience may come to understand how fragile, unpredictable and precious life is... Life is made worth living by the people around you; the rest is noise, in reality. Those who have experienced grief... Well, I have gained so much from reading your stories - and I hope you may gain some comfort from hearing my own.

Grief is something that we as a western society do not talk openly about - but almost all will experience. If we go by the 'plan', we will all say goodbye to our Grandparents, parents, pets, and potentially partners. This grief is real and can be beyond painful - but society should prepare us to expect this at some point - I'm certain nobody would dispute that it is far better for a child to bury a parent that the other way around. The thing is, despite this, people do not talk about death - leaving the majority of us completely unprepared when it strikes - even when the death has become expected. I believe that society should be more open to talking about death - accepting that it is always a possibility - to better equip people for this eventuality. My Nan was a Marie Curie nurse before she died - she would often talk about death, and it was always so awkward. After this experience - I think she had the right idea.

Kinga's death was not, however, part of the 'plan'. She was 26 - and is survived by her relatively young parents, and even a couple of Grandparents. I always thought she would outlive me, if we are being completely honest - I am actually 11 months older than her. The thought that I have lived more than she did is... Eerie at best. She was not ill. There was no hint or warning that this would happen. As readers of this blog will know - she was a careful, kind young woman, with plans, goals and ambitions - really just at the beginning her life into adulthood. She was not meant to die. All grief can come with shock: but the extremely sudden death of such a young, healthy woman adds so extra many layers to this.

Kinga was killed on a mundane, and unremarkable day - a Wednesday, no less. A reminder that any day could spell the end of your life. She was on her way to work - taking the same route she had taken for four and a half years. The day started like any other - I was working a 12 hour shift, and left the house at 6am - she was asleep. We talked via texting a little when she was getting ready - as always. The last text I received from her was simply a complaint that her route was too long (she had slightly modified her route that day - due to mud - but she was killed on part of her regular route). I didn't hear from her for a couple of hours - but didn't think too much of it at the time.

I got the call at midday on the 12th December. I was told there had been an accident and the police were coming to get me. I waited 40 minutes - the longest 40 minutes of my entire life - before the police came and told me what had happened. The rest of that day is a blur. I know that after informing her parents (out of respect for them, I shall not go into this), I went home and laid on her side of the bed a while, before feeling compelled to leave and walk up to the spot where it had happened. I remember needing to see it to believe it (I didn't see her until later on). By the time I had gotten there, the road was open - there was only an outline left to indicate anything had happened at all. My world was gone, and there was almost nothing to show that it had happened. I do remember a lot of shouting and screaming, and lashing out at inanimate objects at this time, as my brain tried to make some form of sense as to what had just happened - and fighting against completely shutting down. But it is such a blur.

I remember that as I was working late that day, I had to wait a while for my train home. Kinga would often send me to the supermarket whilst I waited - and put together a list on her phone. She wouldn't send it until literally five minutes before I was at the shop as she knew I wouldn't remember otherwise. That day was one where this was meant to happen - I later found that list on her phone, ready to be sent to me later in the day. It is strange how such a silly plan  can hold so much power over you at times like this. Just a reminder that her death was not part of any 'plan' - one of many, many reminders.

At the house, there were so many more reminders. Spare shoes by the door. A cereal bowl in the sink from that morning - waiting to be washed up. Her tablet casually laid on the bed; she would watch videos whilst doing her makeup in the mornings. A crappy Disney Princess advent calendar I had bought her (something that was so bad it had made us laugh daily) - ominously ending at door 12 - never to be finished by her. She wasn't meant to die. There was no 'fate'. It wasn't her time. My head - even now - cannot understand that she has died. I know she is gone - but I don't know she is gone. And everything in that house was a reminder of that. When I think - really think - about the fact she is gone, I am overcome by dizziness - like my brain literally cannot comprehend what has happened. Any thoughts that extend beyond the immediate future are like daggers to my brain.

I spent a few days afterwards with Kinga's parents - going to the house only to make sure the hamster was fed. This period is such a complete blur - most of this time has been - but the earliest days... I remember almost nothing. I know that I did reach out to people - but whatever I said is a mystery to me. One thing I do remember is being inundated with official phone calls about her death. The day after I answered one from some life insurance company - ironically. Completely unrelated. Was just an example of how the world outside had continued spinning - when ours had been completely shattered. A couple of days later we all went to a supermarket, to get flowers to lay at the site of where it had happened - we were all pretty messed up at the time. It struck me as to how many normal, smiling happy people were there. How could they be happy after what had happened? Why had the world carried on like this? This was exceptionally hard to understand at the time.

For quite some time I was acting on auto-pilot. Things had to happen and I was best placed to deal with a lot of them. Debts. Funeral. Finances. Hell, I had to move house - couldn't make our rent alone. I've always been a fairly reserved guy, who found it difficult to talk to strangers - but nothing seemed hard any more. It was a complete daze. I kept thinking about how Kinga must be feeling - knowing what had happened... And then seeing me having to handle everything. She was a control freak in life - the idea of me sorting out everything after her death would have given her so much anxiety. Urgh... I miss that about her too. Just... Everything. Such a complete person - here one moment and gone the next. And the world; just robbed of her vibrance and intelligence. It is just so wrong.

But over time, things have changed a little. I function now, to a degree. I am back at work full time. There is not any part of the day where she is out of my head - not one second - but I have learned to put on a front that protects me from most triggers. It is still absolute utter Hell - but it is slightly less all-consuming now - enough that I am able to write at least. In the off chance someone comes here from a similar situation looking for support - I can highly recommend the support group WAY - Widowed and Young. This group is for people who have been widowed before their 51st birthday - people who have suffered a loss too young. It is sad that so many people are eligible for it... But I have found a great deal of support through there. I have been able to vent in a safe space - and heard from so many in my situation. If you are in crisis, I would urge you to contact Samaritans, or one of the many hotlines. I can't validate their usefulness - but they are there for a reason. The most powerful thing I have been reminded of throughout my grief is that I am not alone. Grief is the loneliest place - but it is sadly far from uncommon - even at this age.

I also have to say that people have been immensely supportive. Despite us being a pretty reserved couple (reading Kinga's blog that might surprise you), people who I have never considered close have been there and offered support. I mean - grief is Hell, there is no other word that comes close to describing it. But it has meant so much that so many have offered their genuine support when it was needed most - I know her parents feel the same way. Her funeral was very well attended - which was not fully expected, but very welcomed. It has just been immensely powerful to know that so many people have genuinely cared about her passing.

I hope you all don't mind me using this outlet to talk a little more about my own grief. It is all to do with the Kay you know and love - but perhaps less directly than my previous posts. I would like to talk more about grief - as I said,  I think it may be a little constructive to do so - as well being a little cathartic for my own selfish recovery. I intend to keep posting - one post I want to do soon is to highlight some of my personal favourite posts that Kinga made here - I have read every single one that she has written when she posted them - it would be nice to bring some her writing to light again.

Thank you all again for reading; if this is your first time here, then I invite you to read some of the previous posts I have written about Kinga here: as well as the three years worth of posts Kinga made. She was an incredibly special woman, who deserved so much more than she got... Words just don't do her justice. I doubt they ever will.


Friday 15 March 2019

Shoes and Glitter - after Kay

Hello everyone.

A good friend of mine, who has been helping me come to terms with Kinga's passing, sent me this quote a little while ago, written by the late Terry Pratchett.

“No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence.”

It is a quote that has stuck with me. Kinga didn't get the opportunity to fully realise her dreams - hell, what 26 year old does? The further along this path of grief I get, the more I come to realise that so much of Kinga lives on only through me and her family. I have come to see myself as a caretaker of her legacy - one who has a responsibility to keep her 'ripples' moving through this world. 

Whilst tending to Kinga's roadside memorial, last Tuesday (the 3rd month anniversary of her passing), a man on a motorbike stopped and spoke to me. He said he regularly drives past the memorial, and said that her death had really affected him - despite him not even knowing her name. He told me that strangers - not just him - were thinking of her. This was a really powerful interaction, that further influenced this decision.

I want - no, need - the universe to know her name. My life is now dedicated to this singular purpose. I am not sure precisely how I will achieve this - but I will keep talking and writing about her until the world loves her as much as I do - or until people are sick to death of hearing about her. Whichever comes first.

Kinga's roadside memorial, as it currently stands. The lantern lights up when it gets dark - it says ' Kinga ♡'

When Kinga passed, I never imagined posting on this blog past the original memorial post - I just thought I would let it pass on into history. I knew I would continue paying for it; but I have come to realise that to truly honour her, I need to let this site live. This blog was a huge part of her life - it is here that she shared her interests, passions, hopes and vulnerabilities. To let it go is to let her go, to a degree. I am not willing to do that.

This blog will always be Kinga's blog, but I want to keep posting here, every so often. The aim behind this decision is to keep her memory alive. I may also talk about my own experience with grief - as I believe it is something that people are not willing to have discussions about, and thus utterly unprepared for. I won't be talking about makeup - anyone who remembers the 'Boyfriend Makeup Knowledge Tag' will remember how much of a travesty that would be! Kinga was moving toward a more lifestyle based approach to blogging anyway - I doubt she would disapprove. 

Plus, selfishly, writing about her gives me a degree of therapy, and helps to fill this crushing, endless silent void. But I digress.

Chilling on top of a volcano.. Yep

I doubt all that many of you will continue reading into this new 'epilogue' era of Shoes and Glitter - but I thank you either way. If this is the end of your road with this blog then I understand entirely. All I can ask is that you appreciate your loved ones - without taking them for granted, and never, ever forget about Kay.

Thank you all, once again.


Friday 15 February 2019

Kinga Głowacka - Extended Thoughts.


Hello everyone.

I doubt many of you are still reading this page. Kinga (Kay) was killed just over two months ago, and the world has kept on spinning... Not so much for myself or her family, however. The last post I put together felt a little rushed, and I don't feel like it said everything that needed saying. It was written in a daze, and I want to talk a little more about just how great this woman was... At this point, writing about her is more for me than for anyone else. That said, this is most certainly about her, and our relationship - not myself.

Shoes and Glitter has  died with Kay. She built this platform, and poured her heart and soul into what it has become - a fluffy, safe space, where she shared her passions, intelligence, and vulnerability.  She was not given the opportunity to achieve all of her dreams, and reach her full potential... But she gained so much from her experiences here. This blog is a testament to the person she was, and shows how much she would have achieved. We can celebrate her life - but it will always be an example of how fleeting and fragile it is - no matter how pure, amazing and kind you are, life can end at any time - at any moment.

This was us on our first date... So young!
As I said last time, I first started 'dating' Kinga nine and a half years ago - on the 29th of May 2009. She was 16 - and I was 17. We were two broke college students, who spent all of our money just trying to see each other (we were fairly long distance for the first two years of our relationship). Most people go to restaurants, cinema, parties, etc for their first date, but we couldn't afford that! Our first date involved a walk on a beach up to a hill, and about 8 hours of conversation. We clicked instantly. We were both fairly reserved people in person - but we made each other instantly comfortable. I knew from the first time I met her that I loved her. Our date may sound pedestrian, but it was absolutely perfect in every way.

Kay, looking beautiful, in our first flat together.

We were young, but our relationship, whilst not without it's troubles, was always strong, despite our age. We never broke up, or had one of those infamous 'breaks' We grew up together - we spent over a third of our lives together. We moved in  whilst we were both at university - living in Plymouth for a time (which meant a two and half hour commute to university for me - the things you do for love!). We continued living together for seven years up until her death.

Kinga never felt or did anything half way. She was either all in, or not interested - and it was usually the former. She was an intense and passionate woman. I think her passion in particular shows in this blog - the thought and care she put into every single post - especially her pictures are plain to see. Kinga's favourite quote was (I don't know the source) 'Do not rely on motivation for anything. It is fleeting and unreliable. Discipline, however, is unyielding'. I think that is the key to all of her successes in her short life - and would have been the key to her future success.

On our holiday in Marrakesh, 2016. She blogged about this one early on.

Kinga was many things; but I think everyone knew her for her fierce intelligence. She was forever one step ahead of all of us in life – frustratingly so! Nothing got by her. She came to this country without knowing a word English and learnt it well enough to get a B in GCSE English in her first year here - I know many native speakers who didn’t do even close to that well - a year in and she was already putting us natives to shame. She excelled at anything she put her mind to – be it her job, university, her blog, her relationships, or even just having fun. No problem was too small for her – she was such a perfectionist, that it almost drove her mad. But it made her who she was.

The side that you are less likely to see, is that she was totally bad ass, and had an amazing hidden strength to her. She didn't always appear that way - she was a beautiful, anxious, loving person with many insecurities - some of which she shared in this space - but she would always stick up for herself and people she cared about it ways you can't help but admire. She would never take crap from anyone... I think if she knew what had happened to her, she would be beyond pissed off before she felt sad about it.

Our holiday in Tenerife, 2018. This was the dress she wore at the funeral. She loved this holiday so much.
I could talk about Kinga all day. She has been my world for almost a decade. I thought she would be my future, as well. We had planned to have children, once our careers were sorted (we had guessed two years from now - we thought we had time). We were going to travel more - we had just booked our 10 year anniversary trip to Cyprus. We had always wanted to go to Iceland - to see whales... She also wanted to go to the blue lagoon, because of course she did! She always wanted to go to Australia - to see the Great Barrier Reef (before it died). I can't say that she loved life - the daily grind definitely got her down - but she loved so many parts of life, and and always looked forward to them.

Also, I would just like to remind you all the Kinga did film a few videos - her youtube channel is here. I find them hard - but comforting to watch... She was so magnetic in them.


There are things I want every single person who reads this to think about. Kinga's death was completely senseless and will never have meaning. It is the kind of event that should make people - even strangers - re-evaluate their life, and behaviour.  Kinga did nothing wrong in this accident - I cannot speak to the circumstances but I strongly believe there was nothing she could have done to prevent this accident.

- Treasure your loved ones. It is a cliche thing to say 'live every day as if it is your last'. You never think tragedy is going to strike you. But any day could be your last. Life is just noise - it is important to remember what is important in life. Getting wrapped up in stresses and material worries is time wasted.

- When you say goodbye to your loved ones - even just for work - think about how you would feel if that was the last time you saw them. I can't remember my last moments with Kinga - I was half asleep, having gotten up at 5.30am for work, when I last saw her alive. I would normally kiss her goodbye - but I was so out of it that I don't remember doing it. That haunts me.

-If you drive, never take that for granted. Don't drive if you are unfit to do so - no matter how important it may seem. If you are too tired, under the influence of anything - don't be stupid. Find another way.

- Always look at the damn road. It may sound trivial, but if everybody did this, there would be far less death on the road. I doubt the driver who ended her life is an evil villain - as much as I want him to be. He is likely a normal person, who got too cocky on the road, and someone else paid the price for his gross negligence. If you drive, you should be 100% focused on the road at all times.

This is the real world consequence of one man's idiocy.
Where it happened. Some of the flowers were used for her blog pictures.

I wrote and read a list poem at her funeral. My thoughts are difficult to express - even now. This helped, somewhat. Even this doesn't really say it, but it is something. I would like to share it here.

I miss you.
I miss everything about you.
I miss your piercing blue eyes.
I miss your overwhelming beauty and your ever-changing fashion sense.
I miss always looking forward to our evenings and weekends together.
I miss falling asleep with you every night and waking up with you every morning.
I miss our spontaneous adventures to random places that we’ve never heard of.
I miss wading through a muddy field just to go and see a cute Shetland pony or tiny ‘teacup’ cow.
I miss going blackberry picking and making terrible jam.
I miss using our made up language, and talking about things in a ridiculously childlike voice.
I miss getting drunk with you and trying to educate each other on what is definitive music taste.
I miss arguing with you about nonsense, and always making up the same day.
I miss cuddling with you and intentionally watching every bad Nicolas Cage film that exists.
I miss your love for anything that was cute – and your hoarding of cuddly toys (they have feelings, remember!)
I miss your insistence that unicorns are real – and that you were always going to see one someday.
I miss spontaneously deciding to go to Tesco’s for wine, because why the hell not, you only live once.
I miss our holidays – the only time you would fully relax and enjoy life to it’s full.
I miss your surprisingly dark sense of humour, and the way we used to laugh about things no one else would find funny.
I miss calling it ridiculous when you called yourself a ‘hamster mum’ – Cinnamon Roll misses you too.
I miss hearing about the most mundane things and stories you had found, that you just had to tell me as a priority.
I miss doing the same to you.
I miss always having each other to talk to, no matter how bad things got. 
I miss our plans for the future, everything we could and would have had.
I miss the immense amount of love you had for those closest to you.
I miss your passion, and your burning ambition.
I miss my best friend, my lover, and my entire world.
I wish that you weren’t ripped away from us.
I wish you were here.

Kinga Głowacka


Never, ever forget her.


Thursday 17 January 2019

In Memory of Kinga Glowacka (Kay)

If you follow Kinga's twitter, you will know that she was involved in a fatal accident on the 12th December 2018. She was only 26. I am her partner, Sakima, and I wanted to put together a final post for her blog. I apologise for the delay in putting this together - it has been an insanely hectic and difficult time since her passing. 

Kinga, or Kay as you all know her, loved blogging, and the blogging community - it gave her an outlet and a sense of purpose. She dreamed of doing this for a living someday - growing her brand and working in this industry. Her dream was to one day create her own perfume range (anyone who follows her here will know how much she loved and hoarded perfumes). She was always so driven, and I have no doubt she would have gotten there one day.

I met Kinga nine and half years ago, when she was 16, and I was 17. We grew up together, essentially. Words cannot do justice to my own feelings about her - and many of those thoughts are for her ears alone. She was a truly wonderful woman, who has left a hole in mine, and her family's life that will never be filled. She is survived by her parents, and younger brother. And a hamster, of course... She loved her Cinnamon Roll.

Kinga was always happiest when we had a holiday booked; and we had just booked our 10 year anniversary trip to Cyprus in May. She would have continued with her passion to create things – she had just started putting together a book on perfume. According to her plan, she was about two years away from becoming a mother –  we are all robbed of seeing the amazing, wonderful woman she was destined to become. 

If anyone wants to see the official press release (I wrote this as well) then you can find it here. It provides slightly more detail about the accident.

Below are some tributes that have been left by some of her blogging friends. I thank anyone who contributed to this. If anyone else has a tribute to add, feel free to leave a comment.

Mira Sophie (@Mira113)

Kay was one of the first bloggers I truly connected with and I always enjoyed reading her blog so much. It was through her that I got to know the blogging community and made many friends on here and I will always be grateful for that ❤️ She was one of the best people who followed my blog and her encouragement meant the world. She will be dearly missed in the blogging community.

Leta (@TheNerdyMeBlog)

Kay was one of the first people I've met in the blogging community. She was such a lovely, warm and special soul. I remember talking with her about literally everything from our similar origin to blogging world. I cannot explain how much I cared for her as a friend. She always supported me, showed love and caring, made me feel included and like I belong to a community, like a had a close friend that will always stand by me even if I have never met her in a real life. For that I will be forever thankful. Some time has already passed but I am still in a deep denial. I simply cannot believe that Kay is no longer here with us. She will no longer reply to me on any social media, she will no longer be able to show her support and I will no longer be able to get inspired or learn something new from her. Most importantly, I will not be able to actually meet her in real life. This is heartbreaking truth that I do not want to accept. But I sincerely hope that Kay is in a good place now, that she is not in pain, that she is smiling and looking at all us from above with the same kind and big hearth that we all know she had. You will always be in my heart, Kay.

Thefashionfolks (@thefashionfolks)

I'm so grateful to have had her as a blogfriend and grateful for the bonding through fashion and beauty. She has encouraged me immensely through the years and for that I'm ever so thankful. She had a lovely way of spreading happiness and her presence online will truly be missed by me and many more in the blogging community - no doubt about it.

Nadia (@MielandMint)

Kay, where do I even start… I miss you. From the moment we started blogging around the same time 3-4 years ago, we connected and have been there for each other. Not only supporting each other’s creativity, but being friends and getting to know each other. I am so lucky we got to chat on Skype as well - you were so lovely and bubbly. You’re such a ray of sunshine, Kay. You’ve made such a massive impact on so many people in the blogging community. You will not be forgotten by everyone who you became friends with. Thank you for your friendship and for always being so wonderful and sweet. You are so so missed by myself, your friends and your loved ones. Sending you heaps of love… and thank you so much for being my friend. You will always stay in my heart and memories. xxxxxxxxxx

And finally Hannah E. Padilla (@im_hannaheunice) posted her own tribute post on her blog. You can find it here: Below is an extract:

Her passion for blogging and taking photos showed, and it inspired so many others. I was always looking forward to her next post. Despite how well-known she was in the blogosphere, with a fairly large following on Bloglovin’ and Twitter…she was just one of the nicest bloggers I knew. She never let the popularity, tags, etc.get to her head and she still went out of her way to get to know you, reply to your comment and comment on your blog back. Once bloggers reach to a point where they think they “made it”, they don’t bother. Not Kay. 

The outpouring of grief from the community has been overwhelming, and I just want to thank everyone on behalf of myself and her family for their messages of support (her family have read them). 

If any of you wish to stay in contact for any reason - or see more pictures, you are welcome to add me on Facebook (Sakima Branch) - I know a couple of people have asked. Just message me before you do so I know who you are. I intend to keep paying for this domain, and keep this blog up indefinitely. I may add another post when her headstone is ready, or perhaps for more thoughts. But this is it for now. Thank you all for supporting Kinga through her 3 year journey with this blog - I know it gave her much comfort and support when times became harder for her.

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