Milestone moments are so very bittersweet for us these days. We had a big milestone moment this month with Thomas celebrating his first birthday. A year of having our beautiful boy in our lives. Our baby boy has brought us so much joy, but it is a joy that is always mixed with the sorrow that his biggest sister didn’t get to meet him. It seems surreal at times that she only knew him as Peanut and not as Thomas, although I like to think that she watches over him and knows that she does have the little brother she wanted so much.
Jessica was part of Thomas’s birthday celebrations though. We visited Jessica’s forever bed on Thomas’s birthday, bringing cake and singing “Happy birthday” to him there. Sophie sprinkled some cake crumbs next to Jessica’s memorial for her big sister. And of course, we had to take our monthly family photo at Thomas’s birthday party in Grandma and Grandad’s garden. No doubt this is the first of many birthday parties for Thomas in the garden, being my summer baby. Jessica often had her birthday parties here too as her birthday was at the start of September. Another connection with her baby brother. Sophie’s birthday in late October is less suited to garden parties.
Joy and sorrow go hand-in-hand for us since Jessica’s death. Grief often hits hard in the days either side of a big milestone or happy event. We are getting better at anticipating the storms although the intensity of them can still often come as a shock. The day after Thomas’s birthday party was one of those moments. We are now fifteen months into life as a bereaved family and, while our grief and the Jessica-shaped hole in our lives is as big as it was at the start, I think we are learning to navigate the storms a little better at times. Grief doesn’t lessen, but I begin to see that life grows around it. Living life without Jessica is incredibly hard though. There are many moments when the ache for just one more moment, one more cuddle – to see and feel her physical presence once more – is overwhelming.
July has been a busy month. The end of the school year brought a flurry of activity – sports day, the school disco, birthday parties, the Girls’ Brigade awards evening, rehearsals for The Sound of Music and the ballet show, two performances for the ballet show and then Thomas’s birthday. The summer holidays will no doubt be busy too. We have a few planned activities to look forward to but there are also opportunities for relaxation and being able to enjoy the break in routine. I love the holidays and being able to spend so much time with Sophie and Thomas. I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to be fairly flexible and work mostly from home. It can be challenging to fit work in around the children, but I’m so thankful that I can spend so much time with them because of it too. Thomas is loving having his sister home during the day too. It is lovely to watch them together now that he is big enough to play a little more with her.
Hubby and I have also enjoyed time together this month. We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago with a spa day together. It was a long overdue and much needed bit of couple time.
Our life as a family is so very different to how I imagined it might be when hubby and I got married but this is our family and I am thankful for this wonderful man, who navigates the storms by my side, and our three beautiful children. This is us in July, one year on from becoming a family of five.