April has certainly been a tough month for us with the first anniversary of Jessica’s death. I still can’t quite believe that we have managed to survive a year without our beautiful big girl. Sometimes people comment that they don’t know how we manage to keep going. The answer is that we keep going because we have to. Because, as much as we wish it didn’t sometimes, life goes on. We have two other children who need us. And I think Jessica would want us to try and be happy.
We marked the anniversary by asking our friends and family to #givejoyforjessica – to share a smile in honour of our little girl who brought so much sunshine to others during her life. Seeing all those moments of joy being shared made the day itself so much easier. We visited Jessica’s forever bed and spent time there talking to Jessica and remembering all the joy that she gave us.
Remembering the fun and the adventures that we had as a family always helps to make us smile. One of the things we really enjoyed doing was the gold postbox challenge – trying to visit all the gold postboxes around the country. Over three years, we managed to visit all 112 of them – and took a photo of Jessica at every single one. We decided to stop off at one of them on the way back from visiting Jessica’s forever bed and take a family photo. It felt like a slightly silly thing to do, but something that I think Jessica would have approved of.
Jessica is still, and will always be, very much a part of our family. We talk about her every single day – sharing our memories, wondering what she would be like if she was still with us, talking about how much we love and miss her. Sophie has photos of Jessica next to her bed. When we visited my aunt over the weekend, Sophie told her cousins about Jessica and how much she misses her. Our house is so much quieter without two little girls playing together (although Thomas is doing his best to fill the quiet now!)
Life is very different to how we once imagined it might be. But although the sadness of missing Jessica is always there beneath the surface, we still manage to smile and laugh and enjoy time together as a family. Throughout the storms of grief, we have clung close to each other, knowing that we are stronger together. Knowing that our love for each other, and for Jessica, binds us together. She is still with us; still part of us. And she always will be.