April has been quite a full-on month, emotionally and activity-wise. The build up to the anniversary of Jessica’s death on 14th April is always a hard time, marking yet another year without our beautiful big girl, another year further away from our life with her. Four years without our beautiful Jessica. Sometimes it feels impossible that we could have survived so long without her but time pulls us forward whether we like it or not. The storms of grief come and go and there are moments of joy still to be found, even if they can be bittersweet at times.
The Easter holidays sum up that balancing act of living with grief while creating moments of joy. Trying to hold a space for Jessica while making memories with Sophie and Thomas. The feeling of straddling two worlds; two versions of family life. There were many moments this month where I was physically present with Sophie and Thomas watching them have fun while being back four years in the past with Jessica and Sophie in my mind.
I often refer to family life as ‘living in the cracks’. While out and about, we look like an ordinary family of four, but we’re not. But we’ve never been a complete family of five either. We’re more than four, and always less than five. As much as we try to include Jessica in our family photos, it is her image not the wonderful amazing child she was. We have never known life with three living children. That’s the harsh reality of our life – that no matter how much we try to include Jessica, no matter how hard we try to carry her with us, she is only there in our minds, in our hearts, in her pictures and not there fully. She’s not there running about with her siblings, giggling and playing together. There are no new memories to create with her.
Four years on, we move forward, we smile, we laugh, we make happy memories. But there is always that huge hole in our lives that is Jessica-shaped and there always will be. Life will always be full of ‘if onlys’ and ‘what-ifs’ and the ache for the moments that might have been. We’ll keep moving forward, we’ll keep doing our best to make happy memories for Sophie and Thomas and make their childhood as happy as it can be. And we’ll keep balancing grief and joy, holding space for Jessica in our hearts while making magical memories with Sophie and Thomas. Knowing that while this isn’t life as we would have wanted, it is the life we have and we have to live it as best we can.