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.
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. ❤️
It’s often said that tragic events change you, cause you to take stock on where you’re at, what you want to do and what’s important. Having lived through a tragedy myself I can completely identify with that, and whilst much of my life is still as it was before Jess became ill, I have vowed to carry on some of the bravery that Jess showed, and spend more time pursuing the things that I love doing. One of those is poetry, and I’m particularly proud of my first published poem for the Morley Arts Festival. Here’s hoping it’s the first of many! 😀
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.
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
I couldn’t believe it when I logged on to my emails to find a ‘Team Jess’ running track in my inbox, written and performed by my very talented colleague and friend Trevor, with backing vocals from his wife and daughter too! Wow! Whilst not his normal style (this is not Trev’s first performing venture!) the quick beat will help me keep going when the going gets tough… especially round those hills in Sheffield! Thanks Trev, you’re a legend!