Never ever did I think I’d find myself writing a book; yet here I am! I couldn’t be prouder to launch In Our Shoes, a short poetry book telling Jess’ story as we journeyed through her illness and then began to tackle the heartbreaking process of bereavement.
I’ve very much kept the project under wraps as I’ve navigated the unchartered waters of getting a book published, so I imagine I’ll have a fair few surprised friends to hear of the news; mischief that Jess would definitely have approved of 😀!
It’s available to buy on Amazon, with all profits being donated to Children’s Cancer Charities. I can’t promise it won’t bring a tear to your eye, but if you can spare a bit of cash and would like to have a read, you’d be helping a good cause. Click here to see more.
If Jess was still with us, I think it’s fairly safe to say that she would have long since outgrown her favourite clothes and no doubt some would have made their way into capes/dresses etc for some of her bears! So when I heard about the option to turn some of Jess’ old clothes into a memory bear, it seemed perfect and very fitting for Jess… pardon the pun! Today I received the finished articles – two matching bears made from 6 of Jess’ items of clothing – and I love them! They captures Jess’ ‘into everything’ spirit perfectly. One has taken pride of place in my newly created office… ‘bearing’ down on me as I work! Jess never did get to come and work with me like she wanted, so all in all it feels like another perfect way to keep Jess’ memory living on. The other has gone alongside her brother’s memory box along with some other special keep sakes. Massive thank you to 3 To Thread, we’re delighted with our new additions (although 1 out of 2 people might be too cool to admit it publicly) 😀
If you’d asked me a couple of years ago, I’d say I’d never been too bothered about anniversaries and dates. Of course, I’d mark the key ones, but smaller dates often passed me by, only for me to realise a few days later. Since Jess got ill, I’ve never been a fan of the 18th of the month; Jess was diagnosed on the 18th of September and passed away on the 18th October. Today is not only the 18th, but also 18 months to the day since Jess was diagnosed. Too many 18s, you might say, but wanting to mark the occasion, I decided to take dedicate some time to doing something in memory of Jess.
A few months ago, the Harvey Hext Trust very kindly made us a memory box for Jess’ brother, to store all of his favourite Jess memories. Of course, when I asked him what he wanted to put in there, the list was endless – so many precious memories, how do you capture them all and put them in a box? I’m still not sure we’ve got the optimum inventory (it feels a bit like answering the question what would you take to a desert island!) but at least we’ve made a start and the lid closes now so that’s definitely progress. Thanks Harvey’s Hext Trust, it’s lovely to have an extra special place to save some of the fondest memories.
After what feels like a never ending lockdown 3, Christmas seems like a very distant memory, even though only really a matter of weeks ago. So it was lovely to hear from Jess’ old school yesterday, with news of their amazing Christmas jumper fundraising in memory of Jess for Children with Cancer UK. Another £626.80 to add to the totaliser is an amazing result! Thanks Westerton, and so heartwarming to hear that Jess’ memory lives on with you too.
End of another year, so I thought I’d take stock, Once again, I’ve been thankful for the super family and friends that I’ve got. My first whole year of ‘should haves’ , because Jess is no longer here, As 2020 began, coping with ‘everyday things’ filled me with fear.
Covid has not helped, keeping us all far apart, But the silver lining of lockdown was giving ‘Team Jess’ a great start. With time on my hands, we’ve been able to fundraise and write, And maybe it might help others, who face a similar plight.
Biggest achievement this year: coping with keeping afloat now, Still super sad, but coping just about somehow. A website (or two) have helped document endeavours, And we’ve made keepsakes of Jess, which we’ll always, always treasure.
Lots still to come on the Team Jess path ahead, I’ll save details for now, until plans come to a head. But giving a special Christmas gift, inspired by my amazing super star, Should help other sufferers feel safer, from medics never far.
So as we close 2020, I look forward to next year, Moving forward as we must, but still keeping fond memories so near. Proud we’ve made something positive of something terribly heartbreaking, And appreciating the present, as 2021 is awaking.
Writing has been my way of coping since Jess passed away. Not only has it been my way of sharing news of fundraising and more awareness of leukaemia, but it has also helped me process some of the emotions I’ve felt and helped the fog to lift. I’ve written a guest blog for The Loss Project, all about how grief has led me to write and how writing has helped me grieve. If sharing my story can help someone else, then that has got to be a good thing. You can read more about The Loss Project as well as read my guest blog for them here.
We put our Christmas tree up this week…a time of mixed emotions if I’m honest. On the one hand, it’s nice to spread some cheer with Christmas lights, and who doesn’t like the odd Christmas song, or the legitimate excuse to have ‘just a small one’, because ‘it is Christmas’, but on the other hand, I feel a surge of dread for what will undoubtedly be another sea of ‘brave face moments’. It’s not that the feeling of life without Jess is any worse at Christmas, but it doesn’t half shine at light on it (pardon the pun!) and act as a stark reminder of some of the ‘should haves’ that will add to the ever growing list of things that Jess never got to do; we should have been thinking about seeing Santa ( in a COVID secure way as we now know), probably the last time Jess would have believed, we should have been ordering some Jess designed Christmas cards from school, we should have decorated (and then redecorated the tree together), the list goes on. And somehow the loss feels all the more real as we get a brief respite from COVID restrictions, and people celebrate that they can see loved ones over Christmas….well, most people anyway. Of course, I’ll put on my game face , my plastic smile that seems to reside in my pocket now more than ever and be thankful for all the lovely family and friends with us. I am a firm believer, now more than ever, to treat the present as a gift, because you never know what the future holds.
All of that said, Christmas is generally a lovely time, there is nothing quite like the feeling of everyone being just that little bit more jovial because it’s Christmas and with lots in the world to be gloomy about, who doesn’t like a little bit of fun and cheer. As I can’t celebrate old traditions in quite the same way, I’ll be starting a new one – this year a Christmas poem instead of Christmas cards. Poetry was Jess’ gift to me… I never quite new I had a vaguely creative side until after Jess passed away, so what better way to honour Jess at Christmas. And whilst Christmas can be a very challenging time for many of us, like some famous person once said, the show must go on…..
Merry Christmas everyone and thanks to all those who have supported Team Jess this year.
Jess would be proud of her friends and teachers raising a fantastic £384 for a Children with Cancer UK by holding a fancy dress day at school. Jess loved dressing up, here’s a photo with her brother when they dressed up as Where’s Wally for World Book Day a few years ago. Ironically, it was the Where’s Wally Books that took Jess’ mind away from the blood tests in the early days. Thanks Westerton, fantastic effort!
Today was the first ever Day of Memories that I’ve attended. I’ve been invited to a couple of, ‘remembering days’ held by other groups since Jess passed away, but never quite felt in a place where I could go. But I felt different about today’s event, held by Candlelighters. For the month of Jess’ illness , I saw more of the Candlelighters and hospital team than anyone else I know. And whilst being in hospital is no fun for anyone, the team really did do their best! I will never forget the kindness shown by such a fabulous team, so it felt fitting to join their event. All the same, I was apprehensive about what to expect. Like the other families, watching the event meant we are part of a club that no one ever wanted to be a part of in the first place, and to be honest I wondered if remembering so many lost children would be too much; one loss is tragic, never mind more. But I was surprisingly comforted by the Day of Memories, the unity of it all and of seeing some familiar faces who looked after Jess so well when she was in hospital.
With it being my first event. I can’t comment on the differences between a virtual event and an in person one, but it running remotely meant complete strangers were spared my rather unattractive ‘bawling my eyes out’ look, so that part was probably a benefit . 😀 It was nice to see other people’s memories and to write my own tribute in the memory book too. I lit my beautifully fragranced candle and made a Jessica bracelet. It’s the first time I’ve done anything remotely like that since Jess was here in person, and it reminded me of times we used to sit and do things like that together 😀. When we chose to support Candlelighters with fundraising shortly after Jess passed away, I knew how valuable your service was and how much we’d already benefited from you being there in the short time Jess knew you. Today only reinforced my sentiments. Thank you for all you do. ❤️
So very proud of Oli and Ben gaming for 12 hours straight to raise money for Children with Cancer UK. No doubt Mr Weaver will be blogging about it (when he’s recovered!) but 3 hours in and both boys seem to be having a great time, smashing the original £500 target. Oli’s take on the event is “This gaming event is insane, but can you get me some more food, mum” (he better not get used to this room service delivery!). Meanwhile Ben reports, “It’s decent, a new challenge for my body but not impacting me at all”. It’s great to see both boys getting involved for such a good cause, and I’ll happily spend all day as chief runner, leaving Russell to make odd guest gaming appearances (any excuse to harness his inner child again)! That said, with comments like “I think after this I’m ready for my actual Grand Prix debut”, it’s a good job this is only a day long event! Well done boys, proud of you all.