As I write this, I am on an Air France flight from Paris to Manchester after spending two days visiting Maison & Objet and comp shopping in the French capital. It has been a great two days that has left me feeling super inspired for designing new season ranges at work. It has also been incredibly emotional.
You see, a trip to Paris was one of the very last things I ever did with my brother before he passed away. If you read my post about why Paris will always hold a very special place in my heart, you will know that my sister and I spent two days in the city back in April with Mark. We wanted to celebrate his 18th birthday in style by giving him what he wanted the most: a visit up the Eiffel Tower.
Remembering the good times we spent in Paris
It was a special day. A day that I held very close to my heart, even before tragedy struck and even more so now. We arrived at the tower in cheerful spirits, despite the long queue to get up. Having been up the Eiffel Tower before, I knew what to expect. However, I couldn’t hide the smile on my face as I watched Mark’s excitement rise as we got closer to the front.
What happened when we got to the top is something that will stay with me forever. After admiring the views of Paris from above and taking a selfie with a bin (that is a story for another day), my brother screamed: “I’m on top of the world” at the top of his lungs. Everyone around us stared. Not at all bothered by this new attention, he stated: “okay everyone, you can get on with the rest of your day.” He then walked off with Kelly, leaving me sitting on the floor at the top of the Eiffel Tower laughing so hard that tears were rolling down my face and no sound was actually coming out of my mouth.
At that moment in time, I was so happy. Happy to be in Paris with two of the people that mean the most to me in the whole world making these precious memories. Happy to have such a close relationship with my siblings and happy to be sharing a memory with my brother that he wished for so much.
An unexpected tragedy
I had no idea that months later, I would be back in front of the Eiffel Tower with a broken heart. I had no idea that the next time I visited Paris I would be crying tears of sadness, not laughter or happiness. I had no idea that that trip up the Eiffel Tower would be one of the very last memories that I would ever make with my younger and only brother.
Honouring Mark’s memory
When I found out that I would be heading back to Paris for work, I had mixed feelings. I knew that it would be a fantastic trip that would give me tons of ideas, but I also knew that it would be hard and I that I would most likely cry… a lot.
I couldn’t just pretend that returning to Paris wasn’t significant. I couldn’t just pretend that nothing had changed. I had to let out my feelings and I had to do something to honour Marks memory.
So I did. I watched the sunset over the Eiffel Tower while remembering all the memories that we made on our two day trip to Paris. At 9pm, I watched in awe as the tower shined bright with thousands of sparkling lights, just like the three of us had done those months before. I face timed my younger sisters and we screamed: “I’m on top of the world” in memory of our amazing brother. People stared, but I didn’t care. After all, Mark never cared what anybody thought of him.
Shortly after, I left and headed to Le Depart Saint Michel for a drink. It was here that Mark downed two cocktails in quick succession, much to the amusement of me and Kelly. Again, it was hard to return to a place that had in the past brought so much joy because now, I felt incomplete.
I so deeply wished that Mark could have been sat there with me downing another strawberry daiquiri. I so deeply wished that he could be sat beside me laughing and making jokes and I wished more than anything in the world that I could do something to bring him back.
Mark was one in a million
He truly was. He was the most caring, most loving and most hilarious person I ever had the privilege of knowing. I feel so incredibly lucky to have spent 18 years as his big sister and although my heart is broken, I will always be so proud of the young man that he became. I will always be so grateful that he came into my life and I will never stop loving or missing him until we meet again.