An Anniversary Tribute

I had a rather cryptic message from my friend Sian on Friday.

“Do you have a red kurti/dress? And also how do you feel about a short walk in the woods early Sunday morning to catch the mist? The two are connected to a photo idea.”

Now, I’m used to Sian and her crazy, artistic and wonderful ideas – and whenever she suggests something I am usually up for it.

But what Sian hadn’t realised was that Sunday was going to be a particularly difficult day for me as had Jeremy been alive we would have been celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary. But, of course, that wasn’t to be. Every time I think of our wedding day – that beautiful, intimate Secret Ceremony we had in 2014, I think of me sitting at the desk in my red dress looking up at Jeremy who is smiling into the camera – as we both finished signing the marriage register. It is perhaps one of my favourite photos of us in all the years we were together.

But since Jeremy died, things were very different – and perhaps some of the more symbolic gestures I had adopted to signify my transition from Wife to Widow was that of only wearing predominantly white. Yes, I wear colourful scarves and trousers and skirts – but my top half will always be adorned in white – the colour worn by an Indian widow. For more about this watch my video Wife to Widow.

And now here was Sian asking me about a red dress!

You see, she had seen a red rope swing hanging in Bentley Copse not far outside Cranleigh – and the first person she had thought of, that she wanted to photograph, sitting on it in a red dress, was me.


Serendipity? Coincidence? Intuition? Or just the Universe doing its thing…? Who knows?

What I do know was that I suddenly knew that this was the way I wanted to mark this occasion. I wanted to once again wear my red wedding dress. Some people might think this is strange, bizarre, weird. It doesn’t matter! It suddenly felt like the only thing that made sense.

So early this morning, at 7.45am – there we were trudging through the copse, squishing the fallen leaves beneath our clunky boots – me dressed in my red dress and wrapped up against the freezing cold in an old cardi, scarf and gloves.

The next hour was perhaps one of the most surreal hours I’ve spent – Sian taking photos as I did my best to balance precariously on the tiniest of swings hung from a tree branch, the mist behind me, the sun rising in front of me and the wind blowing through the trees – and me dressed in my wedding finery.

And we had fun! We laughed, we talked, we giggled, we froze and we laughed some more.

As the sun rose behind the trees I felt this huge sense of peace and love as if being surrounded by a presence from above…..

There he was, looking at us, thinking “What the hell are these two crazy women doing now? Ahhh – Shal – wifey – well I’m not surprised – she is always up to something crazy or another. And Sian – a fellow photographer – well we’ll do anything for that perfect shot!”

I could hear his deep chuckle as he shook his head at the bizarre sight, his face crinkled up into his broad, open grin and his blue eyes glistening in the sunrise. And I knew then, without any doubt at all, that this was the right way to pay tribute to the man I loved so very dearly – and still do today…and for Sian to pay tribute to a fellow photographer… to a man whose life was filled with fun, laughter and colour  – and whose favourite season had always been autumn.

Happy Anniversary my darling Jem…

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