To start things off today, I am going right back to the beginning of my 60 Postcards project to give a re-cap for those who may be joining the journey at this point……
It was the absolute unknown of how to be – how to feel – about losing my mum that left me in such a mess. It is so difficult to accept that life has to go on without a loved one who you were immensely close to. After being dragged further down by every ‘first’ or milestone that I had to face, I soon realised that I had to think of something different to do to pull me out of, what felt like, a never-ending state of misery. I wanted to celebrate my mum – to leave some kind of creative legacy for her.
And so, the tribute of leaving 60 postcards around Paris was my chosen mission, in memory of what have been her 60th birthday. Scattering handwritten notes around a city seemed a strange approach to many (even to me at times) but I wanted to spread the message about her and to reach out to people to see if any finders would get in touch. When they did, it made it all worth it – the buzz I felt receiving those emails was magical. I made connections around the world, experienced so many serendipitous happenings, I visited one of my postcard finders in New York City and you know what? Life really did begin feel a little brighter. And that was helped by the fact I knew, in my heart, that my mum would have absolutely adored it.
Ever since starting this blog and especially since the release of the book, I have received emails from readers almost every day. People are letting me know their thoughts about the project but also opening up about experiences of loss of their own. This is extremely moving and I feel honoured that others want to share – so many sign off the email explaining that by speaking openly about things, we feel less alone. Very true.
Some have even shared their ideas of how they are remembering a loved one – lots of different ways from the start-up of blogs, photography, charity work and some doing tributes of their own. It is always great to hear about them all.
I recently heard from Rose and her family. Rose explained to me that they tragically lost their son, Russell, in June last year in a work accident. Russell was only 28 years old. Russell, a gardener and builder from Great Missenden, was in the process of setting up his own business and had recently moved in with his girlfriend when the tragedy happened. He was a very sociable guy, an avid Man U supporter and had a passion for music and playing the guitar. Two of his musical favourites were Jonny Cash and Oasis. With Russell’s love for Oasis in mind, one of his good friends wrote this beautiful message:
Rose and her family are still in shock with what has happened but says, ‘One of his friends described him as “larger than life” and that seems about right, he has left a big gap in so many lives, but also so many great memories that we can still share with his friends.’ I cannot begin to understand what Russell’s family and friends are going through – 28 is just so young. Too young. It just doesn’t make sense.
Rose says that she came across my story through the article about 60 Postcards in the Guardian which inspired her family to do something similar. On the 2nd May, to mark what would have been Russell’s 29th birthday, they set off on a mission to create a postcard tribute of their own. And what a wonderful one it has turned out to be. They chose the pictures for the 29 postcards carefully – ones that mean something to him and to the people who knew him. Rather than leaving postcards in one location, they decided to leave them at random places all around the world.
They sent some off to people he met while travelling in the USA, to leave in places he visited with them. Some of his friends were given a postcard to leave in a place of their choosing and his family thought of locations that were special to them, including in Wales where Russell was born.
Rose said about the day: ‘Thanks again for giving us the idea, it has been a lovely way to remember Russell’s birthday in a positive way. We had such a good day distributing postcards and then getting together in the evening to compare notes and see where others had left theirs. It was also good to include his friends in this, it was them that kept us going in the first few weeks and for that we shall always be grateful. We hope that sometime in the future our story will also inspire others to cope with such a devastating loss.’
Now, were any of the postcards found? YES! I was so excited to hear that they had finders getting in touch almost immediately. I don’t want to spoil things on here, so head over to the Russell’s Postcards Facebook page to see some of the great responses!
I am so pleased that Rose got in touch and that the tribute gave them something to do on such a difficult day. I look forward to following their journey and the stories that will come from the responses and wish them all the luck in the world for more postcards being found.
Russell’s memory will live on forever through his fantastic family and friends. Thank you so much for sharing your tribute with me.
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