The nicest thing about the Easter holidays is that family time together; Sophie and Thomas having whole days with each other. The Easter holidays are also a very tough time too, full of bittersweet and then increasingly painful memories of those last weeks with Jessica, who died at the end of the Easter holidays three years ago.
Three years on, life is so very different in many ways to life with Jessica, and yet so many things about it are familiar. Two children laughing and playing together – but not the same two children. Family days out with four of us together – but not the same four. Two siblings physically together – not two sister but a sister and a brother. An unseen third sibling – not waiting to be born, but being carried in our hearts. Similar yet so very different.
I know I often say it, but watching Sophie and Thomas together does remind me so very much of watching Sophie and Jessica together. Only now Sophie’s role is reversed. No longer the younger sister looking up, she is now the big sister leading the way. Showing her younger sibling what to do, looking out for him. Although with Jessica, there were glimpses of Sophie in that role too at times. Moments when Sophie was protective of Jessica with her special heart; moments when she was aware of Jessica struggling and would encourage her on. Perhaps that’s part of the reason she slipped into the role of big sister so easily with Thomas.
She and Jessica would have shared their big sister roles well, I think. They would have fussed over him together; both looking out for him and encouraging him on. They would have taken it in turns to help him do things – and no doubt would have fought over him at times, and both would have found little brothers can be irritating at times!
It means a lot that she is still part of sibling life. That Thomas recognises her in photos – pointing to her and saying her name – and that Sophie talks about her, puts her in drawings of her family and shares memories and thoughts about her.
“Jessica had a special heart, didn’t she, Mummy?” she said to me, the other day.
“Yes, she did,” I replied.
Sophie sighed deeply. “I think maybe it was a little bit too special.”
Oh yes, Jessica is so very much loved and missed. I’m so sad for Sophie for all that she has lost with her sister – all those future sisterly moments that can never be. But I’m grateful too that she and Thomas have each other and that Sophie shares the memories she has of Jessica with their little brother so that he can get to know his biggest sister too.
Thomas (2 years 8 months)
- Loves singing away to himself while he is playing. It’s funny when he picks up some of the songs from my Zoom choir sessions. His latest favourite is “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. He’s quite good at holding a tune too.
- Still makes his way into our bed nearly every night and loves having a few minutes of being snuggled, tickled and sung to when he wakes up for the day, before deciding it’s time to get up and for Mummy to follow.
- Loves picking up leaves (and the odd stick, but leaves are his favourite) while out for a walk.
- Has thoroughly enjoyed all the Easter chocolate. It makes me laugh how his little eyes light up when he spots the tub of mini chocolate eggs in the kitchen and his hopeful “choccy?” which turns into a cheer of “yay, choccy!” when he’s allowed some.
- Has got his preschool place booked for September and will be going to the same preschool as the girls.
Sophie (7 years 5 months)
- Had a lovely report from her school parents’ evening which shows that she has settled in well back at school and is doing well with her learning.
- Can be so very helpful at times, such as when she surprised me by getting herself and Thomas breakfast, and getting him into his high chair with his bib on ready, while I was upstairs getting dressed. That was a nice surprise to come downstairs to!
- Loved having an Easter egg hunt in Grandma and Grandad’s garden on Easter Sunday and then another the next day in ours. She is gradually working her way through her Easter chocolate – she’s like me and gets through it slowly!
- Is very proud of herself for learning how to ride her bike without stabilisers.
- Was very happy to get back to swimming lessons again this week.
Jessica (forever 6 years 7 months)
- Yesterday (14 April) was the third anniversary of Jessica’s death. We marked the day by doing things to make others smile, to #givejoyforjessica in honour of our beautiful brave girl. It was lovely to see others joining in with this too, sharing their memories of Jessica and holding us in their thoughts and prayers. Yesterday was hard but we felt very much surrounded by love.
- Nanny and Auntie Loraynne surprised us by arriving at Jessica’s forever bed when we were there, which was lovely. Grandma and Grandad also visited her too.
- We passed another one of Jessica’s ‘heart days’ earlier this month – the ninth anniversary of Jessica’s Glenn procedure. Forever grateful to all the wonderful medical team that helped give us those six and a half wonderful years with Jessica.