Saturday, 7 March 2020

Remembering the Future.

Hello everyone.

We are now in March - and we are slowly approaching Mother's Day. Were Kinga still here, I have little doubt she would be thinking up some perfume recommendations right about now - and this blog would continue to be filled with her sage advice, passions, and her unique sparkle. That is the way things should be. Instead, we live in a world without her. A world where her footsteps exist - but she just doesn't any more. This space is now firmly devoted to establishing and preserving her legacy - drawing attention to those footsteps... And expressing grief for those she can no longer take.

I often think of the reality I currently exist in as an alternate timeline - in the main timeline she is still alive. That may sound like a strong case of denial, or a detachment from reality to some - and perhaps that is true on some level. I think this way, because of how strongly I mourn the future that was mapped out for us - the future that would likely exist were she still alive. I do recognise that the future is a fiction, really - we can't see it, or live in it. The best we can do is make predictions about it based on probability. The probability of the future I saw for us was quite high - we had realistic, achievable plans, with so much potential beyond that. The probability of her death... Well, that margin is so slim, it just doesn't register in a world filled with any logic and reason. The future in the main timeline is so, so real to me... The future in this reality... Well unthinkable things can happen to anyone, at any time, here. It is fog, and uncertainty.

Kinga with Cinnamon Roll. One of the very last pictures I have of her.

My mind slips into the main timeline, and daydreams about what we would be doing now, were she alive. When she died, that was easier to envisage - we had immediate plans, such as our 10 year anniversary trip to Cyprus. I was personally applying for teacher training - which, had everything gone well, I would be doing now. Kinga had been coaching me throughout the whole process... She was so charismatic - I had nothing on her. Kinga half wrote a post (much to my own heartbreak), before she died, called 'Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019!', where she listed her goals for the year she never got to see. She wanted to change her job (which, may have inadvertently saved her life), to exercise more regularly, to stick to a more regularly posting schedule... Normal, real plans. Outside of that, we had our own plans for the future. At 26... The future was full of endless possibilities. Possibilities, that were taken from her.

I mentioned that it is Mother's Day this month. It was this, that prompted me to write this post. That likely is an eyebrow raising statement - I understand that. I am a man, with a mother who is alive and well, without children of my own. Kinga was not a mother - besides being a hamster mum, of course (she would be shouting at me if I didn't acknowledge that, quite frankly). She was not pregnant. We weren't trying for children yet. To the average stranger, I would appear to have no tangible reason to talk about this day. However... One of the most certain plans we had - estimated at about two years from the point of her death, and certainly before we were 30, was to start a family.

Edinburgh, 2015. Really, really nice memories there.

Our children don't exist. Literally. They were a thought. A probability. A part of the fictional future I have no access to, but is so damn real to me. Their mother is gone. Frankly, the person whom she believed would be a good father to them is gone too. We hadn't gone beyond planning and talking about them... And yet, their loss burns as hard to me as Kinga's does. When I visit Kinga - as I do often, I think about them. We had names picked out - names that had taken us countless hours and years to actually agree on, no less. Sebastian for a boy. Scarlett for a girl. Names for people that can't exist. That, in this timeline, never did. People, who are no more real to the rest of the world, than another person's imaginary friend.

I mourn thoughts. I grieve for people who were never even conceived. I don't know their faces. I don't know who they would have become. I don't know anything about them. Hell, I don't know for certain that they could have even existed - life has a habit of throwing up additional roadblocks. I've lost the opportunity to meet them. We both lost the chance to find out... Because she is gone. When I lost her, my family became condemned to an eternity as an idea. An unwritten chapter of my life. They exist solely in my head. And yet, they are more real to me than almost any person I know.

This was in Poland, actually. Yeah...

I'm sure there are a few people who question why I chose to talk about this. I debated it myself, to tell you the truth. I have mentioned to a few people how I feel that more than one person is buried with Kinga... I always get puzzled reactions. Her grave is so much more than where her remains are buried. It is the grave of my family. The grave of her future. I want the world to know what it is missing. I want the world to feel her loss - feel my pain - and understand it. Perhaps then, a few people may think twice before they put other people in harms way, through their own selfish and reckless behaviour. The man who killed her did not just take her life, nor her future: he took away the lives of our children too. There are no bodies. No funerals. No eulogies. No-one left behind to speak their names. But they are gone all the same.

The more I talk about her, and spread her story, the more she is alive. So, I keep talking. Our children didn't exist - but if I talk about them too... Then perhaps they can find some form in words, that they were denied by life. I hope that the main timeline is a reality - and that they are that much closer to existing in that world. I hope that there, I am still trying to talk Kinga out of having Hello Kitty wallpaper in their bedrooms (regardless of gender) - even though I know deep down that that is a losing battle. I hope they inherit her beauty, and her fire. I hope she teaches them to not take any crap from people - whilst still acting with thought, dignity and compassion. I hope they live a life of honesty, true to themselves, and on their own scales of success, and do whatever makes them happy. Hell, were she alive, I would never have needed to worry. They could not have asked for a better role model, with Kinga as a mother.

I know as well, that many people in my situation - and there are so, so many of us - feel this way too. Many of us mourn the futures we thought we had - whatever that may have entailed. Many of us mourn children we never had, memories we never made, paths that are no longer open to us... The more I explore my own grief, the more I see the value in talking about it's complexities - in attempting to normalise these feelings, that are likely alien to those who are grief adjacent. Grief is hard enough, without living in fear of judgement for mind-altering feelings that come along with it.

Thank you to all who still read this page. The response to my last post here in particular has been overwhelming. This blog has actually been nominated for the Helen Bailey award through WAY - a charity, whom if you have read my past posts, know has been massive support to me since Kinga was killed. I have to say a massive thank you to whomever nominated me - and all those who voted too. Honestly, regardless of outcome, just being heard, being recognised, keeping her legacy going... These are things that mean more to me than anything else in this world. It has encouraged me to write more about my grief. If people can see themselves in her ripples... Then her legacy is also in helping people. This is still her page though, and I do intend to write a part two to her post highlights soon (I have started the process!).

When I began posting here, I was conflicted. This is her space. Her legacy. I posted to keep it alive. As I take a more active role in managing it however... I realise that it never died. This page still, nearly 15 months after her death, receives 5000 page views a month - and my own posts only account for about a quarter of that. I looked on her business e-mail (which I only recently changed) - and she was still receiving daily brand offers. People still look to her for advice. People are still drawn to her. This part of her legacy never even faded.

She is still so, so present, for so many... And that thought? That does manage to make me smile.


Sunday, 5 January 2020

Kinga - A Year with Grief.

Tenerife 2018. This is the last dress she ever wore.

Hello everyone.

It is... Unthinkable... That it has been more than a full year since Kinga's life was taken from us. Time passes so randomly and illogically in grief. I somewhat recently wrote on my support group that it 'feels like I am an unwilling participant in time, sometimes. Like time is this unwavering sentinel, simply dragging me along by the leg, whilst I kick and scream - just moving further and further away from the time when she existed. I've been begging it to stop for most a year, but it keeps on chugging - relentless, unflinching.' The day she died feels just like yesterday - but part of me wonders if the nine and a half years we had together ever even happened at all. Some days, they just feel like a deeply elaborate dream.

I don't wish for this post to be about me - but I guess it is unavoidable that I will be talking about my grief here - grief is truly an expression of love, in reality. This has been the worst year I have ever lived - worse than anything I could have ever dreamed of living. No one thinks about - or wants to think about - anyone in their life dying - especially long before their time - but it happens. Perhaps we should consider these things. The me that exists now has a far greater understanding of the value of the time that I had with her, than the version of me that she knew.  We all get caught up in life - drama, money, crap - and we so easily lose sight of what is important. In the pursuit of moving forward in our lives - it is remarkably easy to forget to take stock and appreciate the things in our lives that we are actually living for.

I don't have enough pictures like this - pictures of every day life. This was in our old flat in Plymouth, 2011-2014

Legacy is a concept that has been a constant battle for me in this past year. Keeping her memory alive - giving her meaningless death some meaning - these things that have kept me going. Those who knew her don't need me to tell them how wonderful she could be in life - how undeserved and cruel her death was. She was a private person - it is true - something we both shared - but she wanted to make her mark on this world. She would have, too. Today actually marks the date where I have lived two years longer than she has - and my own marks on this world are far, far lesser than hers. She simply wouldn't have accepted any less than a bright, sparkly and glittery future. I often think that she would feel anger about her death, before she felt sadness - angry, that someone took her future, purely out of their own negligence and stupidity.

Nevertheless, legacy troubles me. She was 26 years, 3 months, and 29 days old - and had much, much more life to come - her greatest achievements were ahead of her. If the average person these days is living to around 80 - then she was robbed of  over two thirds of her life. This place is her most obvious and tangible legacy - and she lives in the memories of those who knew and loved her. Another thought occurred to me, more recently, however - that my own continued existence is her legacy too.

People will often tell the bereaved that their person 'lives on inside them' - but that has always felt like a platitude to me - a small, meaningless, learned phrase, designed purely to comfort, but devoid of real meaning. But Kinga was me. Is me. The lines between us remain invisible, really. Sure, we had opposite personalities - she was fire, I was ice - but we were each other's lives for a decade - from the ages of 16 and 17. We shaped each other. Learned from each other. Shared everything together. It is impossible to separate the parts of me that exist independent of her - because there is no aspect of my life that isn't intrinsically tied to her.

How she would want to be remembered - her makeup skills plain for all to see.

Legacy is also troubling because it implies moving forward - a concept that is beyond difficult to understand for many of the newly bereaved. The year mark felt like this huge moment - the end of this arduous journey. Reaching the mountaintop. I couldn't see that in reality... It was just another day. Nothing changed that day. She didn't magically reappear. My own journey didn't end - it carried on. I was at the place she was killed, at the time she died, standing in the pouring rain. I waited there (with her parents), until the time that I know she finally died - like some lost time traveler. A year too late. Nothing changed.

Moving forward is a concept that realistically I have begun to come to terms with however. Going back to what I said about how we were intrinsically tied together... Well, it made me realise that anyone who likes me, likes her. Because she is me. Anyone who loves, or may love me in the future, also loves her. Because she is me. I am her legacy, because I am a result of our relationship. The person I am - the person I may become - is because of her. Independent of that, I will also never stop talking about her. No matter what comes, she is alive for as long as I am alive - and hopefully long passed that. As Terry Pratchett would say, her ripples will flow on. I think above all else - this thought gives me the most comfort.

Portugal, 2017. I also don't have enough pictures of us smiling or pratting about like we usually did. 

Sometimes I feel like I understand my grief. Other times I think I am an idiot for thinking that even possible. To me, grief is just a neat word society has taught me to use, in order to describe the complete and utter decimation of our life - our future - everything I have come to know, or expected life to be. The word 'loss' does not even remotely begin to cover what I have lost. I may have found some comfort in knowing her legacy exists through me - but I will never, ever be okay with what happened to her. Thus, leads on to perhaps the most important part of her future legacy.

I still can't talk about the circumstances of her death. To say that I am aching to would be an understatement. I can say that the decision to charge the man that did this to her has not yet been made - over a year on, and 9 months after the conclusion of the investigation. I am a law graduate - I genuinely believed in the system - but so much of living through this has exposed deep, deep flaws within it. His licence has not been revoked. In fact, regardless of circumstance, this can't be taken until he is convicted. I guess the system doesn't value life and safety as much as we would all like to believe it does.

I guess this has the potential to be the most far reaching part of her legacy. It is not tied to her life - and it is not the part of her story I want to tell - but it is the part I want to change - when I am able to speak about it. I hope in exposing the flaws in the system - in exposing the events that lead to her death - there may be a few less people left where I am. I guess I have truly gained a spark of her fire after all.

Helligan, 2010. She was always so damn beautiful. 

Thank you all for reading. I want to keep writing here - as my brain allows me too. This place is the most tangible and real part of her legacy. Reading her words, seeing her videos, it triggers so many memories for me - small conversations, and tiny details. This place is an expression of herself - a self, that no longer has being. I would also like to take the chance to thank everyone who has supported me this year - especially the amazing friends I have made in WAY - Widowed and Young, a charity that has quite possibly saved my life, and has become like family to me. Frankly, anyone who has offered me a kindness this year - I owe you, and I thank you.

The biggest thanks I have to give though, is reserved to those who have heard Kinga's story, and speak her name. To those who help me keep her alive - whether you knew her, or not... I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Words cannot express what that truly means.

Marrakesh, 2016. So far out of our comfort zone. Still smiling.
Well... There's little else to say, I think. Here's to the continuation of her life, and her story. In 2020, and beyond.

'Til the end of time, Cub. 'Til the end of bloody time.

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