Photo-Features helped publish Lorri’s heart breaking real life story. She contacted us through the sell My Story website and we placed her feature in Pick Me Up magazine. It was the perfect tribute to her late husband.
Read her story below:
I took my dead husband on holiday.
I looked up at the Departures board. Still half an hour to go before my flight. Time for one last photo.
Turning to the man next to me, I handed him my camera. ‘Would you mind taking a snap of me and my husband?’
‘Your husband?’ he said, looking confused.
I pointed to the teddy bear on the seat next to me. It contained an urn holding Duncan’ ashes.
‘Uh, okay,’ the man slowly, handing back my camera and moving seats.
Duncan and I met in an online chat room back in 2001. Halfway through a messy break up, another relationship was the last thing on my mind.
But there was something special about Duncan. Despite the 4,000 miles between us – he lived in Livingston in Scotland, me in Wisconsin – we had so much in common. Soon we were chatting both online and on the phone, all day long. I realised I’d met someone very special.
‘I love you,’ Duncan said after a month.
‘Me too!’ I replied.
We tried to take it slow. We both had children to think about. But it was impossible.
‘Marry me?’ Duncan asked after four months.
‘Yes!’ I cried. I’d never been more sure of anything.
‘But you haven’t even met the guy!’ my family said.
But with our daily chatting, emails and phone calls, we knew each other inside out. Duncan was the man for me.
A year after we met, I flew to Scotland to meet him for the first time. And as he wrapped me in his arms at the airport, I felt like I’d come home.
We had a magical week together. And when it was time to fly back –
‘Move to Scotland,’ Duncan begged.
I agreed in a flash.
My kids were shocked but supportive. We agreed they’d live with their father in America until they finished school, then move over. In the meantime, we’d fly back to the States three times a year.
‘Are you sure you’re doing the right thing?’ my brother fretted. ‘You’ve only met this guy once.’
But when Duncan came to visit and everyone met him for themselves, they too were sold.
At the end of 2002, Duncan and I moved into a flat in Livingston and excitedly started planning our wedding.
Only a few months later, Duncan started complained of stomach pain. He had a sore lump on his neck too. The doctor first blamed the remnants of glandular fever, then an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite he’d picked up on a recent trip to the States.
But the pain didn’t go away. And a series of tests revealed devastating news – Duncan had cancer and it was terminal. The lump was removed and he started chemo straight away.
‘I’ll understand if you want to go back to America and forget you ever met me,’ Duncan said with tears in his eyes.
‘I’m not going anywhere,’ I told him.
Instead, we brought forward the wedding. There was no big day or relaxing honeymoon – instead we slipped away between Duncan’s chemo in jeans in sweaters, with just Duncan’s brother Kevin and his partner Liz as witnesses – but it didn’t matter. Finally, we were husband and wife.
Shortly afterwards Duncan went into remission. We were overjoyed but doctors warned us it would only be temporary. Still, it seemed like we’d been given another chance.
We made the most of the time we had left, splitting our time between here and the States. It meant my family would finally get the chance to get to really know Duncan.
And the more time they spent with him, the more they adored him. I’d look at him joking around with my kids and wipe away a tear. Was this really going to be snatched away from us? It was so unfair.
But in October 2005 the cancer returned. There was nothing more the doctors could do. Duncan battled on and we took things day by day.
‘Whatever happens, we’ll always be together,’ I promised him.
And then I had an idea – I’d start a tattoo tribute. That way I really could take Duncan with me wherever I went. I had my first tattoo – a rose with his name underneath on my left shoulder.
‘It’s beautiful,’ Duncan said.
So I continued, had a poem he’d written for me a week after we’d first met tattooed in between my shoulder blades.
Duncan died in my arms last October. I was devastated. But I continued my tribute with a portrait of Duncan on my right upper arm. Watching the face emerge on my body I felt a swell of pride. It was so comforting to see Duncan’s warm crinkly eyes smiling back at me.
There was just one problem. I hated lugging around the ugly plastic urn that held Duncan’s ashes. But I wanted him with me at all times. Surely there had to be a better solution…?
Scouring the net I eventually found it – a portable urn in the shape of a teddy bear that I could take everywhere and even hug at night in bed. Ironically, it was only available in the USA. Still, I paid the $190 on my credit card and waited a week for it to arrive.
It was worth every cent. The plush tan bear looked completely normal from the outside but had a secret pouch for holding the ashes in its tummy. Popping them in, my bear was complete. Naturally, I decided to call him Duncan. He came everywhere with me.
So when I went back home for Christmas, Duncan came with me. And any doubts my family had about my special bear fizzled out as soon as they gave him a cuddle. He even had pride of place at the table as we ate our Christmas dinner.
Now, two months on, I look at the photos of the trip and smile. Just another happy memory Duncan and I have together.
I’m so sure other grieving partners and parents could benefit from the teddy bear urns that I’ve since launched a business selling them. It’s early days but things are going well. After all, who wouldn’t like to give their departed loved one another cuddle?