Today is your 12th birthday. Twelve years ago today you came into the world, bringing joy with you. I remember the moment you arrived so vividly; the elation at hearing your first cry and the tears of joy as I got to have that first, brief cuddle with you. The joy of your arrival carried me through the fear as you underwent your first open-heart surgery at just a few hours’ old. We knew that our time with you could be short and we made the most of the moments we had.
It was a bumpy journey at times and there were many moments of fear, but there was always joy too, because you carried joy wherever you went. Your smile lit up a room, your sweet nature touched the hearts of those who had the privilege to meet and to know you. You were truly a joy-carrier, my sweet Jessica, and you gave joy for six and a half wonderful years. I am so grateful for every single day we were blessed with you and for all those moments of joy you gave. For all the beautiful memories we have of you. Six and a half beautiful years of you.
We celebrated six birthdays with you here on earth and today marks the sixth birthday we will spend sharing your birthday cake at your forever bed. Six birthdays with you and six without you. Another milestone on this life without you here with us. This week has also brought another milestone – the day you would have started secondary school. I don’t know what school you would have gone to and whether your first day would have been today or yesterday, but I do know that you would have embraced this challenge and seen it as a big adventure, because that’s how you faced every challenge.
Even your last heart surgery was an adventure to you – a “hospital sleepover” as you called it. I will never forget how you were more concerned that Sophie would be okay staying with Nanny than you were about having surgery and how you had a big smile all your face as you rode your “carriage” (as you called the hospital trolley) down to theatre. Your strength that day gave us the strength to smile too as we sang you to sleep. Your strength throughout your life gives me the strength now to tread this road without you, knowing that you would want me to keep finding the joy in life and ensure that your brother and sister make the same kind of beautiful memories that we had with you.
The start of school was an adventure to you too. You went in with a smile on your face and the next day, you were excited about getting to have your birthday at school. Your teacher told me that as the class sang Happy Birthday to you, you smiled and curtseyed. That curtsey was such a Jessica-thing to do. You always finished off a performance with a little curtsey or a bow. In your last ballet performance just before your last Christmas, you had the biggest smile on your face. You weren’t quite doing the same steps as every one else, but you were loving every minute of it and at the end you gave the biggest bow. For you, it was all about the joy of doing something you loved.
I wonder what you’d be like now, sweet girl. Twelve feels so very grown-up. I stopped being able to picture you amongst your classmates some time ago – they’ve all changed so much from the little girls and boys they were when they were at school with you. I’m grateful that many of them still remember you. When they left primary school, you were included in the leavers’ hoodies. It meant so much to me that you were remembered and still a part of it all.
I wonder what you would have been like with Thomas – the little brother you were looking forward to having, and never got to meet. I remember what a wonderfully caring big sister you were with Sophie and how much the two of you adored each other. I know you would have been a wonderful big sister to Thomas too. I can picture you and Sophie walking either side of him, each holding a hand. I see the beautiful bond that he and Sophie share and I know he would have had that with you too. Oh how much you would have loved him. Sometimes I get little glimpses of you in him – in facial expressions, or the way he’ll say something. He loves numbers and dates and was excited this morning because it was your birthday and drew you a Numberblock 12 to mark the occasion. Numberblocks are one of his favourite things so that’s very special.
I’ll never know who you would have been now, Jessica. I’ll never know the big sister you would have been with two younger siblings. We’ve missed out on so many moments together and my heart has ached for you in all of them. But I know that you would have still been the loving, joyful girl that you were throughout your life and that you would have still had that beautiful smile that lit up a room. I know you would have been kind and caring. And I know you would have still been my joy-carrier. I miss you every moment of every day, sweet Jessica, but I carry you in my heart wherever I go.
Happy birthday beautiful girl. Love you millions and billions.