This time last year we were heading off on our very last family holiday with Jessica. We’d decided to go to the Isle of Wight so we could have a quiet holiday, knowing that Jessica was struggling with energy levels. We spent a week in a little bubble – taking things easy, enjoying time together. A week after we came home, Jessica died.
We are now hurtling through the ‘last times’ that come with memories of ‘this time last year’. Our memories are becoming increasingly painful and ‘what if?’ questions are starting to rear their ugly heads once more. As the first anniversary of Jessica’s death draws ever nearer, we are caught up in the raging storm of grief once more. How can we possibly have survived a whole year without our beautiful girl? And yet, here we are – nearly one year on. Still surviving each day without Jessica. It feels like we are barely surviving some days. Other days are a little kinder – and we find we can enjoy happy moments and days out as a family. That underlying sadness is always there though. The pain of grief never really goes away. Our lives will always be emptier without Jessica in them.
Today I am facing my first Mother’s Day without Jessica. I wrote a blog post this week for Tiny Tickers, sharing my thoughts about being a bereaved mummy on Mother’s Day. One thing I noticed as I looked back over those last weeks, trying to find a photo of me and the girls together is how few those photos are. I thought I must have got hubby to take one on Mother’s Day – I always tried to take a photo of me with the girls on Mother’s Day. Only last year, I didn’t. I don’t know why. I took just one photo – the photo of the cardboard watch Jessica made for me – a gift that was treasured then – and is incredibly precious now.
It was one of those moments when I realise how thankful I am for taking part in the Me and Mine project over the last few years. It meant that there was at least one photo every single month of all of us together. I am nearly always the one behind the camera. Without the Me and Mine project, there would have been even fewer photos of me with my girls.
Family life looks very different from how we imagined it would be this time last year. Jessica is still very much a part of our family, even though she is no longer physically here, and our monthly family photos reflect that. Over the past month, Sophie has been talking about her sister more often, and has started to draw pictures of Jessica more frequently. Thomas might never have met his big sister, but he will certainly grow up knowing how excited she was when we were expecting him, and how much she would have loved him. Jessica is always with us, always loved and forever missed.