Train in Vain

This post was supposed to go out yesterday, but such is life!  Apologies...!  Continuing with #jennyjanuary, I decided to not only showcase this beautiful Mary Blair train print skirt (also shown here), but to get a little bit personal.  It's a story through fashion, so I believe it to be appropriate.

Apart of why I love novelty prints is because I can't draw or paint to save my life, so wearing art is a way I can express myself visually.  A lot of my novelty prints have some kind of meaning, like I love elephants so I enjoy wearing elephant prints.  I grew up loving the Brady Bunch so any print with mid-century split level homes on them have me at hello!  There are some novelty prints that I steer clear from, because I'm just not as into those things in real life, like cats (I have a mild fear of them), butterflies (I have a huge irrational fear of them), certain food prints I don't like in real life, etc.  Trains...were kind of on the list for some time.  I've been breaking out of the mold of not wearing things that I'm trying to run from in real life and even embrace some of the darkness that can come with that, and this is no exception.

Okay, but why trains?  I imagine that that sounds kind of random.  Well, almost 10 years ago I lost a close fried of mine.  Though I am in touch with his family, I never asked for the details--if there are any--that lead up to his death (as I don't need to know because it doesn't change the fact that he's not coming back), but the long and short of it is that he was in a freak accident where he crashed through the guard rails and hit a moving train and died on impact.  This was during a time in my life where I had already experienced loss after loss.  I believe someone died every month of 2003 (of varying closeness, of course), including my dad.  I got a break for a while, but in 2005 another close friend died and then in 2006 my friend that I'm talking about in this post passed away.  Prior to 2006, almost all deaths that happened around me I within reason saw coming, meaning I begged my loved ones to do things like take better care of themselves or not engage in risky behavior.  This time around it was not one of those deaths. I thought I had seen and experienced it all, but getting that phone call from a mutual friend that a freak accident out of nowhere occurred and one of your sweetest friends was no longer with us is not something I'd wish on my worst enemy.

With every other death, though it's always shocking, I had a relatively quick moment of reconciliation in the sense that because it was a worst fear realized, there was some logic and therefore acceptance about the death.  When my friend John died, I just remember springing off my couch trying to wrap my head around the fact that this terrible accident had even occurred to begin with, and asking my friend Tyler, "Is John ok?!" hoping that he'd say anything from "yes" to "it'll be a long road" or "we'll have to wait and see".  Instead I got a pause that lasted a second too long, which of course felt like an eternity, as Tyler both braced for himself to say and me to hear a simple, "No."  I remember my knees hitting the ground and though I probably started bawling and asking questions, my memory turns into something of a silent movie from that point on.  I do however remember genuinely not knowing what to do with myself that evening.  I paced around a lot out of nervousness between phone tag rounds with mutual friends and frantically searching for news on the Internet about the accident desperate to make sense out of something--something I regret as being that it made the news, so did a video of his body bag being loaded into the ambulance...which wasn't something I was prepared to see.  Regardless, reconciling how this death could have happened was haunting.  And because I was living in a different state and preparing to move to a third state, I didn't make the funeral.  (To be honest, I was sick of funerals too so I didn't make a valiant effort to go either).

Why bring this all up?  Because I think grief gets a back rap in society.  And I think that grief is way too often overly simplified.  I have experience with it in spades, so it's remiss of me to not bring up my experiences from time to time.  Being that I believe clothing and wardrobe often defines so much of who you want to be, how you feel about life, and possibly so much more, this does tie into a blog post like this.  One of the things I want to say is that I don't believe the adage that it truly takes one year to grieve.  I think at times it's easy to sweep some of that process under the rug, meaning you'll have to deal with it eventually, which will only tack on time until you have a new normal again.  That's what I did in this case.  I resolved myself to move forward and not have anything damper my move to Colorado.  But there was a price for that.  Random moments would haunt me and remembering that John had died felt like I was finding that out for the first time all over again.  I believe that ended about two years after his death.  But other things plagued me for some time after that.  Several years would go by before I could be stopped in my car at a guard rail in front of a passing train without looking down into my lap so I couldn't see the train, but could still feel a cold sweat break out as I heard the train whiz by.

Though I handled other deaths in a more "correct" way and didn't push stuff under the rug, the grief process for them had their own complications and was hardly just a year of working through those emotions.  Some of my personal circumstances that I believed delayed completely moving on ranged from being a teenager, having some deaths be too close together, witnessing a young person dying is jarring and has a different host of issues to work through, and some other traumatic events that were unfolding all at once.  I'm not saying that everyone who experiences loss can't be whole again after a year.  But no two snowflakes are alike, so I wanted to say in a non-meme/soundbite way that it's okay if it takes you more than minute because that isn't said or understood enough.  We all have our own set of circumstances, attachments, ages, experiences, and other underlying factors that shape our lives so the textbook allotted time for getting over something heavy isn't a "requirement" as much as a norm.  And if you are in the midst of the grief process (first off, I'm sorry as it's awful) know that not every day is hell.  When things took awhile for me I mean it like I'd be functioning normally for some time but then have a death dream, or have something hit a nerve out of nowhere.  Sometimes I'd just have a regular tough day and suddenly it felt like the world was ganging up on me and some stuff would get rehashed.

But it does get better.  I have my own host of different issues so many years later, but in regards to shedding tears about anyone from my life who was gone too's really probably not going to happen 10-13 years later.  I've never forgotten anyone, but because I have worked through those issues and emotions and have moved on, for me emotions no longer come to the surface in a profound way.  It can still be too easy to cite these events in a laundry list of things that have gone wrong when explaining why I am the way I am in some cases, but I say these things in a matter of fact tone.  And the fact that I got this beautiful train skirt and can wear it proudly is such a far cry from breaking into a cold sweat upon hearing or seeing a train.  It does get better.  But if you're in the thick of it, it's okay to feel how you feel because that means you're working through it.  You won't be bogged down for forever, no matter how long or how short you're in the prison that is grieving someone.

When I wrote about my dad's death this past June, I got such an overwhelming response and so many of them were personal.  Since there is a story behind this skirt and me being okay with wearing it (I NEVER would have wanted it 8 years ago, despite how beautiful it is) I thought it would be wise to share, as blogging helps the world be flat and connects people.  I hope this legitimatized anyone's muddy feelings on something they're going through, or perhaps has helped someone understand a friend who's up to their eyeballs in despair over the loss of a loved one.  And if you're ever strong enough, I encourage you to share you story one day (if you have one).  It's the only way the taboo is taken out of such normal human emotions.

Since this is a style post too, the cardigan is from Old Navy and I believe the earrings and necklace are also Old Navy but I honestly don't remember though, ha! The sunglasses are Forever 21, the brooch is from Summer Blue Jewelry, the top is Le Bomb Shop, the skirt is Pinup Girl Clothing, and the shoes are Bait Footwear.

Though on Instagram I will be sharing one more Jenny skirt (tomorrow) for #jennyjanuary, this is my last Jenny skirt  blog post for the week.  If you missed any, links are below:

Italian Landscape Jenny Skirt
Burlesque Dancer Jenny Skirt
Mary Blair Floral and Lips Jenny Skirt
Harlequin Jenny Skirt

I went for a literal song inspired blog post title this time around, with "Train in Vain."  Though I originally was going to the a video from The Clash, I decided to go with Annie Lennox instead as she was revered in the friend group that I shared with John.  It felt more fitting ;)

I've recently added two pages to this blog, one that catalogues posts named after songs and another that catalogues all of the concert stories.  Click the links on to see for yourself!  Happy Friday!

Follow this blog on:
NEW INSTAGRAM HANDLE: @laurenblair_donovan
NEW TWITTER HANDLE: @hello_blair


  1. Thank you for this. Just the other day, I was hit by one of those moments where things flipped from going about my life to Not Ok over something that happened quite a while ago now. It's hard in those moments for me to avoid telling myself that I shouldn't have those feelings, which (I realize) is probably just an attempt to focus on thinking instead of feeling. The loss is well in the past at this point, but the particulars of what's going on in my life right now has me revisiting that sense of loss again. So I wanted to say thank you for having the strength to share something so deeply personal, and in so doing, to help someone you've never met (except through Instagram!) be a little more accepting of her feelings, and a little more hopeful. I'm just so moved by your words.

    Also, because this *is* a style blog, I adore Summer Blue Jewelry! My favorite brooch is a holly brooch I got from her shop, and I want it in non-holiday colors (even though I'd wear red and green all the time if not for the Unfortunate Holiday Implications.)

  2. What a beautiful skirt, I love the print! Yellow is one of my favorite colors. You look lovely!


  3. As soon as I saw this outfit, I was instantly in love. The colors go beautifully together and the train print is a favorite of mine. My family has always loved trains. We always went, and still do, go to Stram Town, a train national park in Scranton. The story about your friend is so heart wrenching and I'm sorry you had to go through that. A life taken away in its prime is so hard to wrap your head around. The grieving process does get a bad rap. No one likes to talk about it. Every one deals with grief differently too. Its a process we all eventually have to deal with.

  4. Trains have always kind of scared me too. Before I was born, a distant family member had a similar freak accident. I've heard others on the news. Makes for a cute print on your skirt though! I love expressing myself through my clothing, so I totally get it.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  5. that skirt is so gorgeous :) Love your look babe x3

    dresses-and-travels //@susandollparts

  6. A very powerful post, I really feel for what you went through. Each person is different and has to grieve through it in their own way. I did want to say that the skirt is adorable and cheerful. An amazing find!


  7. So sorry about such a difficult time in your life, Lauren! You seem like such a beautiful and strong person to me, even though I only know you virtually.
    You look amazing in that skirt, by the way! I didn't know those prints were related to you personally, but it makes sense to me now:) Hope you had a nice Sunday!

  8. I'm sorry you've had to go through so much loss in your life Lauren, that truly and utterly sucks and is beyond ruff. I have so much respect and love for the strength and courage you have and for sharing such a personal post that we can all take something special away from it. <3 xoxo

  9. I absolutely love this bright yellow color and the train print is unbelievable cute!
    Your story is so personal and touching that I've started to overthink some parts of my life!


  10. Your skirt is so cute, I love the yellow

  11. I am so sorry for how much you have been through and especially such a kind and gorgeous person as yourself. There is so much to work through and everyone's story is different. I am a strong believer in writing honest posts like this. It makes me feel like you are a closer friend and I admire your strength...your skirt is absolutely stunning and those are such adorable shoes. I was thinking they must be bait footwear (best ever!)On another note, I am also a major fan of the Brady Bunch!

  12. What an amazing outfit! love it! so great! it brought some color especially on this cloudy grey Monday! Thanks!

  13. Pretty chic outfit. Love the whole styling :)

  14. such a charming print on your skirt! darling look!

  15. Sorry to hear about all of these sad moments in your life, which you have been through, Lauren!
    PS: The skirt is amazing :)

  16. I never would have thought that this meaningful story would be attached to a skirt. It's wonderful that you're able to process it and share your story to help others. We all deal with grief differently and we all are subjected to the societal claims that we should move on at a certain pace and act a certain way in grief.


  17. Thanks for sharing this harrowing story. I guess the best thing to take away is the precious time you did get spend with him and every other loved one you lost. I'm glad you were able to overcome the pain after some time and live with it. I think certain losses are ones you never recover from, but others become a distant memory that you were able to grieve and move on from. Maybe when it hurts that much, it means that the love they gave you while they lived was such a strong gift and that's something to hold onto. I'm glad you embraced the imagery of the train with your skirt. It may seem frivolous to some, but it hold so much meaning for you and that's so moving in my opinion.

    xx Yasmin

  18. You are so right.. losing people is an awful thing. And while it's always awful losing people, losing a friend who is so young and so unexpectedly is so shocking. As I write it it doesn't seem to really convey the immense awfulness of it all... both losing people and losing young friends unexpectedly but I've been there too on both accounts so I know what you mean. I'm glad that you are able to push past the negative associations with things that pertain to your loss though. Too many awful things happen in life that I feel if you only let the negative associations stay everything will life eventually will have negative feelings. You've got to let the good come though too.


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