Last year, my beautiful friend Jo lost her battle with depression. I miss her so much and not a day goes past when I don’t think about her. Once the dust settled after her death, her boyfriend Chris and I had long chats about him doing an project in her memory, with proceeds going to charity. On Thursday, what would have been Jo’s 31st birthday, he launched The Salvage Project.
Chris explains the project better than I ever could. The ‘About Jo’ section of the website reads, “I refuse to dwell on her illness as it simply didn’t define who she was to anyone. Jo struggled with a variety of mental health issues throughout my time with her. She hid it from everyone with the exception her closest family and I.
For the purpose of narrative and facts, only: Jo took her own life in February 2014.
I saw this project develop whilst she was alive and, for Jo, ‘The Salvage Project’ was an escape. It was a ‘place’ she felt like she had a real purpose and somewhere that she saw a future. I’ll always remember her face when we’d finish a certain part of a logo or website. She’d bounce and clap and squeal with excitement. I remember, she used to uncontrollably waddle around like a penguin when she was excited.”
“It was ‘her’ project. The Salvage Project gave her a sense of independence and a feeling of self worth. She’d learned to use side effects of her illness, such as attention to detail and perfectionism to create one of the few things she was genuinely proud of. This project contributed to moments where she was truly herself and I’m so grateful I was around to see how it made her feel.
From the start, we always referred to this as ‘The Salvage Project’. The word ‘Salvage’ took a much deeper interpretation when I started revisiting the project, after she passed away. Jo left behind mountains of her work including chests of beautiful jewellery and notes on the direction she wanted to take with business ideas and branding. Stepping into her office at our home was like stepping into a time capsule of her ‘happiest’ times.
To me, ‘Salvage’ refers to the act of scrambling through the aftermath of devastation to find, develop and launch a project she’d worked so hard towards. I wanted to ‘salvage’ my positive memories of her instead of ‘moving on’. I told myself that ‘If I can’t say goodbye to Jo, I want my memories of her to be from when she was at her happiest’.”
I had a brainwave while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed last night. The Rock n Roll Bride page has always been very active. There’s a great community of nearly 150,000 people on that page who subscribe to see updates about this blog. However, for me, the real draw of Facebook is not to be mindlessly bombarded with updates about the blogs or businesses we follow, it’s a place to connect with our friends… to make new friends… and to share updates about our lives and loves.
For me personally, I spend the majority of my Facebook time either chatting with my besties over private chat, or taking part in the private groups that I’m a member of. I suspect that a lot of you are the same. So I thought, in a moment of madness, wouldn’t it be fun to have a Rock n Roll Bride Facebook group for us all to get to know each other, share wedding plans, ask for and give advice!?
When I was planning my wedding in 2007/8 private forums were hugely helpful. I also made a ton of friends who were on the same journey as me and they made my wedding planning so much easier! However people don’t really use independent forums any more, but everybody uses Facebook!
You say that you first spotted me walking down the stairs at the dive bar we both used to frequent. I was just 16, you were 21. You assure me you can remember exactly what I was wearing – a sheer pink top with a denim pencil skirt, and freshly dyed pink tips at the bottom of my hair. “That’s the girl I’m going to marry” you turned to your friend and said. “Yeah right”, I replied when you told me this story, years later. But that is just so typically Gareth – you’re just always right about everything.
I thought you were fit but also ‘too nice’. I was still in my “I want a bad boy” stage – the cannabis smoking, skateboarding, treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen type. You were nothing like the other boys I knew.
It took me a while to give you a chance. “Hey, wanna go out for a drink?” came the text on my 18th birthday. I didn’t even remember giving you my number, but you’d saved it all that time. “What do you have to lose?” my friend reassured me, “He was cute and sweet. Go for it!”
We went to play pool. I’m pretty sure you let me win. I remember one of our very first conversations was me asking you if you liked football. You said you hated it and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.