So we’re just back from our second family holiday without Jess. Following the J.E.S.S.I.C.A. new holiday tradition meant we were destined for somewhere beginning with E…… easier said than done with COVID restrictions still in full force. Not ones to be beaten, we decided to think a little creatively and settle on ‘eeeeek…let’s go back to the very place where Jess had her last holiday .. and relax in an equisite apartment, exceptionally near the beach!’ And whilst the holiday made me conquer a fair few firsts (seeing places we’ve not seen since Jess was with us in person), we remembered lots of happy Jess memories too; digging holes, pushing boats, playing on the beach, eating well and buying football shirts to name but a few, whilst making a few more she would have loved…….. not least eeeeeeek there’s a massive boat following us! Of course we’ll always miss Jess and holidays will never be quite the same again; after all we’re a 5 not a 4 and an honoury bear….but Jess was very much with us in spirit and I’m fairly sure Jess would have loved the adventure of it all.😄
Jess’ old school are running 21 marathons! Yes that’s right – a marathon per class! How amazing is that?! Thanks Westerton – It’s a super way to help remember Jess and raise money for Children with Cancer UK at the same time. I know she would love the idea just as much as we do. Good luck everyone!
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.
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. ❤️
This weekend, it has been a whole year since we lost Jess. It goes without saying that it has been more than horrible and we miss Jess more than words can say. But we’re slowly adjusting to life without Jess, with new chapters having been started and somehow managing to make it from one day to the next, mostly with dry eyes now and sometimes even with a smile 😀. Massive thank you to our friends and family for getting us here and helping us to yo – yo between living in the present and remembering the past, between trying to keep positive yet still mourning a tragic loss, between doing lots of new positive things, but all because of Jess. You can read more about our first year of life after Jess in my favourite new way – a poem. Jess’ Nana has written one too.
We’ll be spending some time at the beach this weekend, because Jess would have loved that. I hope wherever she is, Jess sees what we’re up to and smiles with her ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ smile, remembering we’ll always be together forever in spirit. ❤️
So unfortunately the commemorative event at Jess’ old school has had to be postponed – COVID 19 strikes again! It was to be expected really given the unprecedented times we find ourselves in, but a shame nonetheless. The good news is the school will be doing a fancy dress day on the 23rd October instead, raising funds to share between the school and their chosen charity for childhood cancer. Thanks Westerton, Jess would have loved dressing up 👍🏻
Tomorrow is another first…. Jess’ first birthday not being here 💔. Jess would have been 9, except as she’s not with us anymore I’m calling it 8+1.
So unlike in years gone by, we won’t be blowing up balloons, excitedly waking up at 5am to open gifts and presents or lighting candles on a cake. But we will celebrate all the wonderful memories, the determined spirit, the mischievous games Jess used to adore, the endless love and cuddles and the unwavering bravery Jess showed. To mark the occasion, we’ll be taking a walk on the beach, something Jess loved to do and donating to Children with Cancer UK.
And of course, in what has become a post Jess way of coping, I’ve added a birthday poem to the growing collection. Here’s hoping wherever she is, she knows we’re celebrating her short but very precious time with us. ❤️
Happy Birthday Jess! 🍰 🎈 🎁
Today you would have been nine years old Half way to an adult, I would have been told Except for the fact you’re not here any more So eight + one is your new age score A few things have happened since you passed away But we still miss you lots, every single day. With us in spirit, I know that you are With your ring on my finger, you’re never very far We’ve been building a legacy, so we all remember you To be honest, it’s helped us know what to do We’ve built you a website, in your name I think you would have like the minor fame We’re fundraising lots, £17k raised already The increase in funds has been nice and steady So many charities to support, that we could choose All of who, our support could use. I’ve told your tale to spread the word I’ve wanted to make sure that we got heard You’ve been on Websites, in magazines and have a song too So many ways we’re remembering you. Ideas are a plenty from your old school I think you’ll think they’re all rather cool A tree, a bench and an annual award too It’s fair to say they won’t forget you So today, for your birthday, we’re off to the coast It’s seems a fitting way, your birthday to toast I’ll play a few pranks, which I know you would have done And we’ll try to make sure, we have lots of fun So happy birthday Jess, my mini me. I hope that you’re ok, wherever you may be. I hope somewhere you’re celebrating too And watching how much we still miss you. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
This week has been another first and another hurdle for us; our first family holiday since Jess passed away. It’s fair to say it’s not easy making new memories without Jess, so we chose to very much keep her memory present with us all the time and visit a part of Dorset not too far from Jess’ last holiday. In an impressive motor home that became our home on wheels for the week, we’ve loved exploring the stunning coastline and beaches of the Jurassic coast, with an honorary Team Jess mascot with us (AKA one of Jess’ favourite teddies). No substitution for the bundle of fun that would have been Jess with us of course, although definitely easier to keep still to take a photograph of! I think being adventurous herself, Jess would have liked that we tried to take her with us to explore some of Dorset’s marvellous natural wonders, especially the adventure of Portland Bill and old Harry’s rocks. And she definitely would have liked the quirkiness of a motor home and having to climb into a bed above a steering wheel! So whilst we missed Jess dearly, it’s fair to say we enjoyed the holiday in Jess style. Looking forward to next year’s ‘E’ trip.
It’s 9 months today since Jess passed away and coincidentally 9 days since we launched team Jess. I’ve been reflecting on where we are in one of my favourite and new found ways – a poem. Click here to have a read