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Life Chez Dee Episode #26: Back to School

The summer holidays are drawing to a close, and we’re almost back to the routine of school and college. The early mornings, the chaos of bag packing, rushing to school, finding lost shoes, making packed lunches etc etc.

There’s always partly some relief that the school term has started again, bringing routine back into our lives. For some reason I don’t seem to be able to keep track of what day of the week it is without the routine of school, and all the clubs and activities which the boys do on a daily basis. I also think the holidays are too long if I’m honest, I think even the boys are ready to go back to having some routine and structure to their weeks. But there’s also a tinge of sadness to the end of the holidays, no more are we free to have a lie in and have a lazy day; or go for a walk on a whim, or go for a family day out. Spending time with the boys has been lovely, and we’ve taken advantage of our free time together this summer. So many days out have we foregone to allow William time to study for his GCSEs. Now they’re over, school’s out, and college has yet to begin, and it has been lovely doing lots of things, going on days out, spending time as a family; together; away from work and school, gadgets and other technology, enjoying the company of each other, making memories together.

Of course, as I so often mention, there is the sadness on all our days out that we are missing one member of the family who SHOULD be there. Who ALWAYS comes with us in spirit, even if he is not there physically. The holidays have been so lovely, but there have also been so many days I’ve found difficult. Everywhere I turn, everywhere we go, everything we do, just doesn’t ever feel right, because it isn’t right … no day is ever complete, because our family is not complete, nor will it ever be. But as much as I notice we are missing Edward, it is also very obvious how much he is ever present with us. I think of him; I talk to him; all the time; ever present, yet not present, in everything we do, everywhere we go.

There is a whole raft of emotions that come at the start of a new school year. William has finished his GCSEs, I’m relieved they’re over and I’m incredibly proud of him and all he’s achieved. He is beginning a new chapter of his life at college, as he studies for his A levels. I’m excited for him, I think it will be wonderful. He’s a lovely, talented and academic young chap, I know he’ll love it, I know he’ll do well, and I’m bursting with pride for my boy, but I’m also a little lost too that my boy is growing up, is finding his way, is embarking on his own journey.

Oliver goes back to school, another year older, another year higher in the juniors. Proud of this young man too … another little clever clogs; a lovely boy, full of fun, friendship, enthusiasm and energy, with an endless desire to do, and hearty appetite for learning.

Of course, another school year begins without Edward. I always think of Edward being here, being just that bit younger than William, ready to step into the footsteps of his brother, and yet that will never be. He’d never be filling the footsteps literally; they were such different characters, liked different things; but the stuff you do at that age, that stuff will never happen for Edward. I cannot begin to describe the wrench, the emptiness, the never knowing. He’s in my mind though. I see him; I picture him in his school uniform. I see his friends how they’re growing up, and I picture Edward with them. I’m with them still. I know what year they’re in. I know that they’ve picked their subject options. I wonder what Edward would have chosen to do. I wonder which subjects he’d love the most. I wonder what sport teams he’d be on. I wonder, and yet I know in my mind; I’ve imagined it all.

The first day back will come, and we will inevitably take the back to school picture which we’ll keep for posterity, but Edward will be missing. I will take my picture of the other two boys and treasure it, and talk about it, and share it with all my friends. I see Edward in Oliver, so many little characteristics the same.

I will look at all the pictures of the children who are in Edward’s year at school. All those who were his friends, his peers, and it will hurt. I love seeing how they’re all growing, I love hearing what they’re all up to. I watch as they walk to school, watching closely, thinking, imagining my boy walking with them, laughing, joking, happy.

I look at the pictures shared on social media – of children I haven’t seen since they were in primary school; my friends’ children. I’m glad that I see these pictures on social media, but each and every one of those photographs highlights the emptiness I feel; I’m stopped in my tracks, my thoughts go into overdrive, my memories flood back to me, my imagination kicks in and my emotions are all over the place. I miss my boy so, so much I can hardly put into words; and I have to put this aside to be there in the moment for my other two boys, to celebrate their milestones; to enjoy the milestones celebrated by friends and family.

One of Edward’s friends calls to see me, not all the time, just once in a while; it is so special …so special I cannot begin to tell you how much this means. To hear the news and the tales, to know and hear how much Edward is thought about, to know that his friends carry him with them … that’s special.

And as they grow up and still have that special place for Edward, I know he’ll always be with them, growing up with them which I hope continues long into adulthood, as they embark on their life’s journeys, their careers, their relationships, and indeed their children. All those milestones which I will never be able to celebrate with Edward.

When I speak to people who were close to Edward, they still have such fondness and affection for him, plenty of memories, plenty of ideas of what he’d be up to too …. the one’s who share all that with me are special, and it means far more to me than you will ever know or comprehend.

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