Here we are at the end of another year. Christmas and New Year is a particularly difficult time for us. I think grief feels more acute at this time of year, plus it also brings back memories of Jessica being in hospital for her Fontan procedure. We saw in her last New Year on the paediatric intensive care unit, feeling relieved to be on the other side of the surgery and with hope for the future. Jessica was awake at midnight and one of the nurses brought over a laptop so she could see the fireworks on the TV. It’s a moment that feels like it was a lifetime ago.
The end of the year is a time for looking back and for planning ahead to the new year. For us, it’s also a reminder of how time continues to carry us on, further away from those days with Jessica. The empty space at our table always feels bigger during the festive season. Underneath the smiles and the focus on making Christmas magical for Sophie and Thomas, there is the ache of longing for Jessica. And we get through it all as best we can, trying to make space for grief and allowing ourselves to feel joy too.
One of the things that has helped us get through Christmas without Jessica has been to go away and completely change our Christmas traditions. We’ve now got through five Christmases without Jessica and four of them have been spent at Coombe Mill in Cornwall. It’s been good to get away and focus on just being together as a family without any external distractions. Getting outside each day helps too and Sophie and Thomas have loved started each day by going on the feed run and feeding the animals.
And as another new year begins, we’ll remind ourselves that time may carry us further from the life we once shared with Jessica, but it will not carry her away from her. We carry her with us wherever we go, holding on to the love that still binds us together and the beautiful memories that we have. Jessica will always be there with us in our hearts.