Grief and life after Jessica: The school run

Here I am again – back to doing the school run. Dropping a little girl off at a reception classroom once more. How different it all is second time around. I’ve relaxed back into that familiar routine very quickly. I’m more confident, the faces on the school run are familiar ones.


I’ve missed this. It’s good to be back doing the school run. I’ve missed being a part of that community, missed the big hug and kiss at drop off and the way a little face in the classroom would light up at pick-up. The joy in the exclamation of “Mummy” as my little girl ran out of the classroom door.


I’ve missed sitting down and helping with homework, listening to my child read, the joy of watching them learn new things. It’s good to be back doing it again.


Jessica outside school - "Grief and life after Jessica: the school run"


Second time around. So many things that are so very familiar. So much that is so very different. This was not how it was meant to be. So far removed from the dreams and pictures I had in my head back when I first applied for Sophie’s school place. Yes, it’s good to be back but at the same time it breaks my heart each day too. Everything is coloured by the loss of Jessica.


I wonder what she would have been like now. That little girl who should be heading into a Year 2 classroom each morning. How would her writing have changed, how would her beautiful drawings have evolved? What new things would she have learned? I see her there each day, that little girl. The ghost at the door of the Year 2 classroom. The one who is always there and never there at the same time. I hear her laughter, I see her take her best friend’s hand, the way she turns back to smile at me as she heads into class.


What would it have been like with both of them? Two of them scooting into school together or walking in holding hands. Dropping one off at a classroom door and then the other. Knowing that Jessica would look out for Sophie at break time. Would they have talked over each other at pick-up as they told me about their day. Or (more likely!) would they have talked of other things and told me they couldn’t remember or didn’t know what they did in school?


What would I have been like – that school mummy with two children at the school? Holding two little hands, one each side, with baby Thomas in the sling as we crossed the road together. Trying to juggle getting homework and reading done with two children. Juggling the morning routine, no doubt getting a little stressed at times, trying to get three children ready to leave the house. Not having that constant sense of emptiness, that never-ending ache of longing. Not forever “that mum” – the one whose child died. I miss the mum I once was and mourn the mum I never had the chance to become.


In some ways for me, it feels like I have stepped back in time. Back to being that new school mum again – new and not new all at the same time. It’s strange to no longer be part of the group of parents that I was once a part of. I pass them on the way to drop Sophie off. Sometimes we stop and say hello, but we’re at different classrooms now; at different ends of the school.


How proud Jessica would have been of her little sister being at school with her. How proud I am of my baby girl and the way she has settled so beautifully into school. It was never going to be easy without Jessica but Sophie is doing so well. I know she misses her big sister and there have been a couple of wobbly moments, but on the whole she has taken this big step in her stride.


It is lovely to see Sophie learning new things; to do things with her that I once did with Jessica. Everything brings back memories though. I miss those moments. I’ll always miss those moments. Experiencing them anew with Sophie brings both joy and sadness. There should be two little girls learning new things. Two book bags flung on the floor on arriving home, two sets of home learning to do, two books to read at night.


Back to school. So different from how it once was, and yet so very familiar too.

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