The end of August always brings a sense of sadness. Sadness that another summer is drawing to a close. The awareness of how quickly time passes as we prepare for a new term, a new school year, another milestone in my children’s lives. And, of course, the sadness that comes with the knowledge that Jessica is not here to be part of all those milestones. She isn’t here to be excited that her little sister is joining her at junior school or that her little brother is about to start preschool. She isn’t here to get excited and make plans for her tenth birthday which is now just a few days away.
This time of year is one I have always found hard but even more so since Jessica died. That combination of the usual end-of-summer sadness plus Jessica’s birthday means that this time of year is an emotional rollercoaster. Not to mention all of the memories of summers with Jessica; all those lovely little moments when she and Sophie had fun together and the ever-present ache of her absence when watching Sophie and Thomas making their own summer memories. I wonder how summers would have been with three children together and it makes me sad that I’ll never know.
While it hasn’t been the nicest summer weather-wise, we have enjoyed August on the whole. We had a lovely holiday at Coombe Mill which Sophie and Thomas thoroughly enjoyed. Another emotional week for hubby and myself though with the realisation that this was our first non-Christmas family holiday since Jessica died. Plus with Thomas now being in a proper bed, there was also the realisation on the first night that the last time we had two children sharing a room on holiday was the last night of that last holiday with Jessica. Grief hit us hard that night.
As always, we carry Jessica with us and keep her a part of the things we do. Sophie drew a big picture of her sister in the sand on the beach so that Jessica was part of our beach day too. We talk about her a lot and it made me smile to hear one of Sophie’s friends mentioning Jessica when talking to someone at the park in such a matter-of-fact and casual way. It’s clear that Sophie talks about Jessica easily to her friends and that they simply accept that this is the way our family is. And while I wish that our family life wasn’t this way, that we were just a “normal” family, it means a lot to hear Jessica’s name spoken so easily and naturally.
One of the nice things about this summer has been the way it’s felt a little more normal. I know that we are still very much in a pandemic, but it has been so lovely to be able to enjoy days out and time with family and I’m not sure I’ll ever take that for granted again. I’m not sure how things are going to pan out over the autumn and winter, but I’m glad we’ve had those moments of being able to catch up with friends and family over the last few weeks. We’ve made some happy memories this summer and ticked off most of the activities on Sophie’s summer list.
As I’ve told Sophie at the end of happy days that she wishes would go on forever, ‘all good things must come to an end’ and so it is with those long summer days of spending time together. Our summer is drawing to a close, but we have the memories to look back on and new adventures around the corner in September.