It has been ten and a half months since Jessica died. The memories from this time last year are now an ever-increasing series of “last times” – last birthday party, last time seeing Nanny, last heart check-up. As we hurtle towards the anniversary we dread, the storm of grief has been picking up once more.
Some days the storm feels relentless. The boat in which the four of us are travelling feels so fragile at times. I am scared that the storm will blow it apart. There are times when I am so blinded by the storm, I cannot see my husband clinging on to his side of the boat. I can hear his voice above the roar of the waves and the wail of the wind, but we are trying to pull our boat in different directions and it creaks ominously under the strain.
In the next moment, we are at the helm together again, working together to steer the boat to calmer waters. Working as a team once more. Reassuring Sophie that all will be well, that our boat is strong and will endure. I see her fear though – she is more aware of the boat straining against the wind and storm – will it really endure? It will, it must. We are a team. We need each other. We will make it through.
I think I say this every month: it’s been a tough one. It does feel like it is getting harder in many ways though as we get closer and closer to the anniversary of Jessica’s death. The numbness and disbelief that protected us a little in those early days is long gone. There is no hiding now from the reality of having to live each and every day without our beautiful Jessica. That although we always try to carry her with us, knowing that she is, and will forever be, part of our family life, she can never physically be with us again. Having to accept that hurts. There are so many times when the ache for just one moment with her is overwhelming in its intensity. Losing Jessica was incredibly hard. Learning to live without her is harder still.
Earlier this month, we took part in a snowdrop walk organised by Child Bereavement UK. It seemed an appropriate place to take our monthly family photo. It was mostly cloudy with the threat of rain but the sun did come out briefly as we took our family photo and again when Sophie planted a snowdrop in memory of her big sister. Jessica is still a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds of our grief. Through the wind, the rain and the storm, she is still there. We are still together in the boat. We just have to keep holding on and we will make it through.