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.
So incredibly proud of one of Team Jess’ youngest supporters, her lovely brother Oli. Not only has he handled losing his sister with incredible dignity, but he’s now sharing his story with Children with Cancer UK – Another ‘Proud Mum’ moment! Visit this link to find out more .
I am delighted that we have just passed the £20K fundraising point and we’re still going strong 😀. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d raise so much (and be able to help a number of charities too), so a massive thank you to all those who have supported us! With the challenges that COVID has brought, charities need our support now more than ever.
Today the anniversary of Jess growing her angel wings has been and gone. The last first for us to face. We wanted to doing something positive which Jess would have enjoyed, so in Jess style we ate sausage sandwiches (with posh coffee) and headed to the beach. We had a lovely day, in spite of my wet feet from jumping the waves in the sea! That would have made Jess giggle! Thank goodness the sun came out to warm us through. We were touched by how many thoughtful messages and surprise gifts arrived too to cheer us up. Wherever she is, I know Jess will be smiling. 😀
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 👍🏻