The world has changed quite dramatically over this past month, hasn’t it? When I think back to the start of March and how we were going out and about quite normally, visiting family, having days out, rehearsing for a concert, it all seems like another world entirely. Four weeks on and our little world seems to have shrunk to the house and garden; the four of us cocooned together doing what we can to try and stay safe in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Back in early March we took a family photo with my mum as we celebrated her 80th birthday with other members of my family. I had intended that at the end of the month we would take a similar photo with my husband’s parents at their party to celebrate their golden wedding. That party has now been postponed and although we did manage to see them on their golden wedding anniversary, it was at a distance. Hopefully we will still be able to celebrate with them at a later date though.
Our other Me and Mine photos from this month are taken from our last family outing together – visiting Jessica’s forever bed on Mother’s Day. Knowing that it would probably be the last opportunity to visit her for some time.
Life at the moment feels like it’s shifted into a very definite ‘before’ and ‘after’ – two very different worlds; two very different versions of normality. And it’s a big reminder of how this isn’t the first time that life has sharply split into two different worlds; two different lives. This time of year is a tough one for us with a lot of reminders of the last time our life shifted very dramatically as we approach the second anniversary of Jessica’s death.
The memories from two years ago are becoming increasingly painful to look back upon. Looking back now I can see the changes in Jessica. Back then, I knew she was poorly, but then she’d pick up again, and I’d feel reassured. Now I can see that each time she didn’t quite pick up as much as she had previously and I berate myself for not being able to see it at the time. The guilt and the feeling that I failed her, because I didn’t keep her safe, are ramping up once more. And this time they come with a big dollop of anxiety about the coronavirus and whether I will be able to keep my family safe this time.
This year, I am aware of the parallels between then and now. Sophie being the age Jessica was then, watching her doing the things that Jessica did. The unexpected parallels – Sophie not finishing the Easter term in Year 1, home-schooling Sophie like I did with Jessica, and the thought that Sophie might not experience a summer term in Year 1 either. It’s a strange time and the strangeness is disconcerting on top of the tumult of emotions that living with grief brings.
It’s hard knowing that I almost certainly won’t be able to visit Jessica on the anniversary of her death. Hard to be physically separated from so many family members and friends. However, one positive of being isolated at home has been getting to enjoy that family time together. Being able to sit and have dinner together each night. It’s lovely to watch the children enjoying being able to spend so much time with Daddy. It feels like we’re in a little bubble.
And there comes another trigger. Our last holiday with Jessica also felt like we were in a little bubble and I remember wanting to hold on to it as long as I could; wishing that the bubble never had to pop. I didn’t know back then, of course, that the bubble would pop in such a terrible way. But here we are again, back in a little bubble and feeling scared of what might cause that bubble to pop. Two years of living with grief has taught me one thing though. We just have to hold on together and take it moment by moment. Hopefully we’ll manage to stay safe and weather the coming storm as best we can.