I’d hoped at the start of this month that our family photo for December would be taken at Coombe Mill on Christmas Day. Sadly, the rise in coronavirus cases and our area going into Tier 4 a few days before we were due to go meant that our only break away this year had to be cancelled. Like many other people, we had no choice but to stay home alone for Christmas – our first Christmas at home since Jessica died.
I have to admit that this third Christmas without Jessica was the hardest one yet. Our stays at Coombe Mill over the last two years really did help make Christmas much more bearable. This year, there was nothing to take the edge off the pain of Jessica’s absence and with the added worry over rising coronavirus cases, the festive season has certainly been a tough one.
It may sound strange, but one plus side to being at home was being able to visit Jessica on Christmas Day. We took her stocking and her presents with us and Sophie opened them there for Jessica. It helped a little to be able to make Jessica part of our Christmas in this way.
This time of year is hard for us – not just because of Christmas, but because of the memories that come in the days that follow Christmas. Two days after Jessica’s last Christmas, she went into hospital for her last planned heart surgery – her Fontan procedure. Although that surgery went well, losing Jessica such a short time later does make it feel like that that surgery was the beginning of the end of our time with her, and this makes the memories of that time quite painful. And then of course we come to the end of the year, and the start of yet another one that doesn’t have Jessica in it.
This time of year is full of constant reminders of time moving on, moving us further and further away from our time with Jessica. While we do our best to make the festive season fun for Sophie and Thomas, we also know that we have to make space for Jessica too and our grief of having to live our lives without her physical presence.
I know that the festive season has been a tough one for so many people this year and we are not alone in having struggled through it. The world is certainly a very different place than it was this time last year and our life has changed hugely in the last year. It is hard not being able to spend time with family and friends and we have no idea yet when life will return to more normal levels. All we can do is take each day as it comes. It’s something that life with Jessica taught us to do – to live in the moment and try to make the most of it. It wasn’t always easy then and it’s certainly not easy now, but we’re holding on together and getting through the best we can.