September has been an emotional month with the first day of the new school year falling on what would have been Jessica’s 11th birthday. She would have been very excited at her little brother starting school on her birthday. I now have two children at school, two sets of school uniform to lay out in the mornings, two sets of lunches to order. Getting to grips with two timetables and keeping track of who has PE on which day.
In another life, I’d have been an old hand at this by now, with four years of having two children at school under my belt. In that life, there would have now been three children going off to school together and three sets of things to juggle. In that life, I’d have had the experience of two children going to the same school together, whereas in reality, chances are I’ll never get to experience that. September comes with a side order of grief, and another bout of having to accept that my reality is not as I would have liked it to be. As always, I do my best to enjoy life as it is as much as I can, while also making the space I need for grief too.
Jessica’s still there in the moments with her siblings. I see the love she gave in the way Sophie hugs and kisses her little brother goodbye each morning as she heads into school. I see her joy in the way that Thomas’s eyes light up when Sophie comes out of school. I see the beautiful bond that Jessica and Sophie shared in the moments of laughter when Sophie and Thomas are playing together. I see the little ways they include her by mentioning her name or snuggling up with ‘the Jessica cushion’ or under ‘the Jessica blanket’. She is there in the love and the joy and the laughter and I am thankful that she is still part of her siblings’ world, even though she is not there physically.
I often refer to life as a bereaved family being about ‘living in the cracks’ and this applies to sibling life too; being more than a pair, but not quite a trio, no matter how much we try to keep Jessica a part of it all. The ever-present gap between life as it might have been, and life as it is. The reality of bereaved family life. It is what it is, and we’ll keep doing our best to live it as best we can. Filling the cracks with love and laughter, and the occasional Photoshopped moment of life as it might have been.
Thomas (4 years 1 month)
- Has settled into Reception and is enjoying school.
- Tried out the prep ballet and tap classes at Sophie’s dance school. Both classes were a bit too much together so he’s now been enrolled into the ballet class and is enjoying it.
- Has been enjoying after-school trips to the playground while Sophie is at her activities.
- Has calmed down a lot since starting school – he doesn’t have quite so much excess energy for mischief now!
Sophie (8 years 10 months)
- Has settled into Year 4 and enjoyed showing Mummy around her new classroom.
- Has now settled back into our term-time routines and is enjoying being back at her drama and dance classes and Girls’ Brigade.
- Has joined the school choir.
- Enjoyed performing on stage for our church anniversary concert.
Jessica (forever 6 years 7 months)
- We celebrated Jessica’s 11th birthday with a birthday picnic at her forever bed. This year’s cake was a Twilight Sparkle unicorn cake.
- We have added a new fairy house to our fairy garden which was a gift from a friend in memory of Jessica.