Friday Focus 19/02/21 – Absence

It’s been a quiet half-term break. February half-term is always a quiet one but lockdown this year has made it even more so and I’m aware of the absence of our all our usual half-term activities. Most of our outdoor time has been spent in the garden, with the occasional walk or scooter ride around the estate. In previous years, we would have gone to visit family but of course, this isn’t an option this year. I miss being able to see my family. I’m grateful for video calls, but they’re not the same.

 

The word 'absence' in purple

 

Jessica’s absence feels more acute this week too. I’m missing her a lot right now. I always miss her, of course, but this week has felt harder. It’s the memories of the ‘last times’ that are starting to pop up – three years ago this week was the last time my mum saw Jessica. The memories of those last weeks often come with a side order of guilt and the questions that will always remain unanswered. Could I have done more? Should I have made different decisions? Would she still be with us if I’d done things differently? And the worst of all those questions – did I fail her?

 

On the whole I’ve made peace with those questions over the last three years; reminded myself that I did what I thought was right at the time, and that no amount of wondering if I could have done more will bring Jessica back. But as we approach the third anniversary of Jessica’s death, the questions start to haunt me once more as the memories of ‘this time three years ago’ begin to become increasingly painful. The coming weeks are going to be a bumpy ride, I know. I’ve learned to ride the storms when they come. It might sound strange, but sometimes I feel closer to Jessica when the storm of grief is raging all around me. Because that intense grief is a reflection of how much Jessica is loved and missed and a reminder that she isn’t forgotten even though our daily life continues to go on without her.

 

A very happy Jessica after her first day back at school

 

What I’ve been grateful for this week:

 

A video call to see my new great-nephew; Thomas playing with his Numberblocks Mathlink cubes; my Valentine's Day cards; Thomas drawing on the easel in the garden; a pancake with fruit making a face; Sophie painting a rainbow; Thomas splashing in a puddle - "#365daysofgratitude 2021 - Week 7"

 

  • Day 43 – I am grateful that I got to ‘meet’ my new great-nephew via video call today.

 

  • Day 44 – I am grateful for Numberblocks-themed Mathlink cubes.

 

  • Day 45 – I am grateful for lovely words in cards today.

 

  • Day 46 – I am grateful for outdoor clothes that last well. Thomas’s hat, puddlesuit and wellies all originally belonged to Jessica and still have plenty of wear left in them even after being well-used by both his sisters.

 

  • Day 47 – I am grateful for yummy pancakes.

 

  • Day 48 – I am grateful for time to sit and paint with Sophie.

 

  • Day 49 – I am grateful for sunshine and the pure joy of a little boy splashing in puddles.

 

 

Other things that have made me smile this week:

  • Baking banana bread with Sophie.

 

  • Setting up the table for afternoon tea as a little treat.

 

Afternoon tea set out on the table

 

  • Watching Sophie and Thomas having fun in the garden drawing on the walls and fence with chalk.

 

Sophie and Thomas drawing on a wall with coloured chalk

 

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26 thoughts on “Friday Focus 19/02/21 – Absence

  1. It’s such a strange concept to someone who hasn’t yet felt grief, but you are so right, the pain and suffering does make you feel a connection to your lost loved one that is somehow also welcome. I have been thinking of you as I know the next few weeks are going to be hard, and they always will be, but you will ride the storm. Jessica was the bringer of joy. Let that joy into your life with your memories, however painful some may be.
    It looks like you have done some fun things this week. I miss the chalk drawings, it’s one thing I have many happy memories of as a child and something all my children have done.

    1. Thank you Anne, we will get through it and grief isn’t always unwelcome especially as there will be a mixture of joy and grief over the next few weeks.

  2. I can’t imagine the grief of losing a child, but I do know the immense love we feel for them and I know from your posts how much Jessica was loved.
    The afternoon tea looks delicious 🙂 Drawing with chalk is always lots of fun.. however old you are!

    1. Thank you Karen, she was certainly very loved. We had lots of fun in the garden with the chalk 🙂

  3. Hard to deal with, but you are coping, and living … good to look also to the things you are grateful for. Hard not to look at the photograph of Jessica and see such a characterful child, full of life … I do think it is important that you give expression to your grief and the magnitude of your loss. #WOTW

    1. Thank you Enda – we do have a lot to be grateful for. I agree that it is important to make space for grief too.

  4. We never do much during the holidays but do always have one day out but that didn’t happen this year and it was really missed.
    It must be such a hard time with all of those lasts with Jessica. Try not to be too hard on yourself with all the unanswered questions.
    Lovely photos! Thomas really does love Numberblocks. How cute. The afternoon tea looks so good. x

    1. Thank you Kim. We missed our days out too. I generally don’t let the unanswered questions get to me these days although this is the time of year when they’re mostly likely to rear their ugly heads.

  5. Sorry to hear it has been a bit tough re absense. Am glad that you have managed to make peace in general with any unanswered questions. Hugs

  6. Hopefully these next few weeks are easier to bear than they were last year and the time before. Jessica was much loved by so many people you shared her smile and adventures with.

    The afternoon tea set up looks lovely. Nice idea – it’s not something we’ve ever done.

  7. So sorry to hear that things have been overshadowed by grief this week but it is natural and I hope love and faith get you through. I am also grateful for clothes that last: poor Zach is now in clothese that have been passed on from his older siblings and their cousins so he is the 5th owner! #project365

  8. Sending hugs. Unanswered questions are so hard I hope they get easier for you over time. I really hope we can all get together with family soon. Ethan would love those Numberblocks-themed Mathlink cubes as much as Thomas does. Your afternoon tea looks yummy #WotW #365

    1. Thank you Jane. The unanswered questions aren’t as hard to deal with as they once were. The Numberblocks-themed Mathlink cubes are brilliant – Thomas spends ages playing with them.

  9. One thing I can say with 100% certainly is that you never failed Jessica, Louise. Her smile will always be with those of us who were never lucky enough to meet her in the real world.

    Love the pancakes and the afternoon tea idea looks lovely #365

  10. I am so sorry that this time of the year is hard for you.. and please don’t ever think that you failed her. May she rest in peace
    The little boy does look like he is having lots of dun with the puddles the pancake does look yummy.. and I am glad you got to meet your grand-niece through video call…

    1. Thank you – most of the time I have made peace with that thought but it does sometimes pop up at this time of year. I know Jessica wouldn’t want me to think I failed her.

  11. I am sorry that this week has been difficult for you. It must be so hard, I honestly don’t know how you do it.
    It does looks like the children have had a lovely week though you can not beat jumping in puddles and thank goodness for hand me downs.

  12. It is a shame you didn’t get snuggles with your great-nephew but he looks like a cutie. I am sorry to hear that you have been finding the week difficult, hopefully this week is kinder

  13. Love the pancake picture. That made me smile. It’s great its made with so much fruit too, my boys just layer them with Nutella or syrup. Can never get enough of afternoon teas, its one of our favourite things to do.

    1. Sophie likes Nutella on hers too! This was a great way of encouraging more fruit on the pancakes 🙂

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