My name is Carol Moses and 9 months ago after spending most of my adult life as an actress. I became my own boss when I set up PORTOBELLO TOM. I want to give you a quick insight as to why Portobello Tom exists and why I now make affirmation bracelets alongside my European charm bracelets.
A West Londoner through and through, I grew up near Portobello Road where as kids we used to call jewellery ‘Tom’ hence the name Portobello Tom.
My mother was a ‘gym slip mum’ and too young to handle the responsibility of raising a child so my grandmother brought me up as her own with her 3 boys on a little estate in Latimer Road, West London. I’m telling you this because I want you to get an understanding of my relationship with my gran. She was my everything and I didn’t really know how to love anyone else on that kind of level until I had my first child, Akira.
16 years ago, my grandmother suddenly passed away from throat cancer even though she had never smoked a single cigarette in her whole life, go figure.
3 weeks after my grandmothers sad passing my mother and uncles decided they were going to the Caribbean to sort out my grandmother’s affairs (she had spent the last 10 years of her life living on her home Island of Dominica).
There was no question as far as I was concerned, Akira and I were going with them. Now, Akiras dad didn’t want her to go but I was adamant, she was going with me. We were going to be celebrating her 3rd birthday in Dominica and in a funny way it gave the family something to look forward to whilst there. I struggled with the guilt of that choice for years.
5 days into the trip, 6 weeks after my grandmother passed, 2 days before her 3rd birthday Akira contracted meningococcal septicaemia and died within 24 hrs of the symptoms appearing. On February 4th 2001, my life fell apart and it has taken 16 long years to try to pull the pieces together, but pull them together I have.
Now, my story is not about how cruel life is but rather about how strong we human beings are. How amazing the human spirit is. In the pursuit of happiness and healing I’ve discovered many things. I’ve discovered happiness is a right for all.
That includes me and you. It sounds obvious, but it was something I forgot whilst battling the depression and alcohol abuse that came about as a result of losing Akira. I just didn’t know how to cope. I went into free fall, I lost my self-confidence, my faith and my long-held belief that life was supposed to be enjoyed. When my beautiful, intelligent, spirited daughter passed away life stopped making any sense.
Over the years I found much attention was given to the victims of meningitis and the disease itself and rightly so by the way. But there is another side of the story. There is the family that is left behind when a person passes away. Aunties, uncles, siblings, grandparents, cousins and most importantly parents who now have to find a way of living the rest of their life rather than just existing as I did for many years.
We have to find a purpose, a reason to carry on breathing and living. We must remember how strong we are. Unlike most people I had to find a reason to be happy rather than just being happy. So, you see, I had to rediscover my amazingness as a matter of survival.
We are all going to go through pain at some point, but as long as we believe and hang on in there, we will always come out the other end of our journey stronger. This is why I have created the JOURNEY range. Initially I thought I was creating something specifically to reminded those who had been left behind that they are strong. That they are amazing, because walking through the fire of grief is not easy. It takes superhuman strength at times, but we can do it and come out the other end feeling blessed to have had our loved ones in our lives, no matter how short that time was.
But it has turned into a lot more, because everybody and I mean everybody needs reminding at some point of how strong they are. Not only those who have suffered bereavement but anyone who has been through, a rocky patch, anyone who has had to overcome, anyone who needs reminding they are a hero for carrying on, anyone who needs to be told to carry on because they are worth it and worthy.
The main charms I use on my Portobello Tom ‘JOUREY’ bracelet and what they represent:
I put a tree of life charm on there to remind the wearer that life is forever growing and that they are rooted to something bigger than just themselves. We are connected to a life source we must remember that.
Then there is the teardrop charm, it symbolises the tears you have cried. All stories of strength have a tear or two involved. But those tears did not stop you from moving forward. You have got from there to here. Yes, you may cry again but it will always be ok not to be ok for a time. You will make sure you get up, you will find the strength to keep moving forward…you always have.
I’ve also added a reminder to revel in your playful side in the presence of a child-like charm on the JOURNEY bracelet. Your laughter is important, the world needs it. Did you know smiling gives off positive energy? Smile.
Finally, I have a musical note or treble base. This is to remind you to talk your truth, your voice is important. When I went through my trauma I lost faith in my own voice. Everyone else’s opinion held more weight than my own, even when it came to dealing with my own life. However, we are all entitled to our own opinion and to travel our Journey as we see fit, and that’s what the musical note represents.
I will be donating 10% of the profits from the ‘Journey’ affirmation bracelets to Meningitis Now. When I needed help in the early days of my daughter’s passing, when I just couldn’t see a future with me in it they were there for me so now I want to what I can to give back in some way.
Here’s to a wonderful life.