Since Jess passed away, I find myself most weeks thinking about what should have been happening right now. Right now, Jess should have been in her final term at primary school, completing her controversial SATs, before enjoying a fun filled summer term, with school trips, leavers parties and visits to her new high school. I wonder how she would have handled it all, what she would have said and how she would be looking now. I’m fairly sure she wouldn’t have been phased, and I can almost hear her saying “They’re just some tests and I’ll do my best” as I think specifically today about the SATs her friends are completing! But like so many in my shoes, we’ll just never know for sure. These “should have” days, as I call them, are a stark reminder that there are so many memories we never made together, so many “rites of passage” stolen away.
But whilst Jess not being here is an exceptionally sad situation, I’m pretty sure Jess would not have wanted us to be sad! She was perhaps the most “live for the here and now” person I’ve ever known! So on days like today, when grief sits particularly heavy, I try to remember Jess’ playful spirit. Her love of trampolines (and bouncing back), monkey bars (and hanging on), see-saws (and riding the highs and lows) and leaving footprints in the sand. Jess would definitely approve of that way of looking at things.
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.
So today was the original date for the Team Jess Sheffield 10k to raise money for Children with Cancer UK. Sadly, ‘corona chaos’ means that the event has been postponed until next year. Whilst we will patiently wait and run as planned next year, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to mark the original date with a run too. It might not have been the 10k we had planned, or even the reworked plan that we had planned (another strike from corona chaos!), but it was a mighty fine work around with independent runs happening across the north and coming together via zoom afterwards. Thanks to this lovely bunch for doing a virtual 10k event with me….. and a special shout out to Sandy for completing your first ever 10k. Jess would have loved that we managed to find a way to run in spite of the challenges. Thanks to all those who sponsored us…… It seems that with us running two races, the 2 for 1 concept is infiltrating even the sporting world these days 😂. As for all events these days, I’ve marked the event with a poem. Click here to take a look.
For anyone wanting to see some live video evidence, here you are! We’ve even added the trusty Team Jess Anthem to recreate the running experience!
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.