One of hubby’s Christmas presents from the children this year was a photo frame with four special photos. Four photos that showed life as we wished it could be – capturing the five of us together, thanks to the magic of Photoshop.
They’re not perfect, and some work better than others, but we’re all together in them. Mummy, Daddy, Jessica, Sophie and Thomas. Our beautiful family.
In one, I’m holding Thomas on my lap with Jessica pointing towards her brother. In the original photo, one of our Me and Mine photos for January 2018, I was holding a scan photo. Announcing that we were looking forward to becoming a family of five. How excited Jessica was. We were full of hope for the future; we were on the other side of Jessica’s surgery and starting to dare to look ahead. Imagining a life with three children; a dream that was never to become reality. In these photos, I get to glimpse the life I dreamed of; the life I wish could have been mine. I’m comforted a little by the knowledge that Jessica knew of, and loved Thomas, even if she never got to meet him in life.
And then we come back to reality. Our Christmas photo – the four of us on Christmas Day, with me holding Jessica’s picture. We’re smiling, trying to enjoy Christmas Day as best we can. At this time of year though, reality hits hard. The ache for Jessica, the pain of loss is so very intense. Christmas is a time for being with family; for being together. But we are forever incomplete.
Christmastime brings back memories of that last Christmas with Jessica. Focusing on Christmas Day, giving our girls the best Christmas we could and hiding our fear about Jessica’s heart surgery. The festive season cut short by going into hospital the day after Boxing Day and the memories that this time of year now brings back as a result. The heart surgery that gave us so much hope at the time now feels like the beginning of the end; and the countdown to the anniversary of Jessica’s death begins again. The start of a new year is a reminder of the relentlessness of time moving us on; taking us further and further away from our life with Jessica. A new decade about to start; another year that never had Jessica in it. A year in which Sophie will move beyond her big sister.
And all we can do is hold tight to our memories and let the storms of grief carry us where they will. This is our reality. But we now have a handful of photos giving us a glimpse of a world that might have been; a world that may only live in dreams but is still ours to hold and imagine. We carry Jessica with us wherever we go, and no matter how relentless the march of time is, it can never take away the love we have for her, the love she had for us, and the love we have for each other.