The Week of School Vacation is Wretched

The Week of School Vacation is Wretched
It’s school vacation week again, a time of the school season I used to really love because I could just hang out with my daughters. We’d have play dates, do projects, maybe take a trip to a museum or park or the movies. Heck, we might even get a room or two cleaned. Once in a while we’d do an overnight at a hotel or a few days away but our normal routine would be staying put at home.

Our daughters played incredibly well together; three years apart was a gap they didn’t seem to mind and they adjusted to it very well. They were able to play at both age levels, making compromises along the way, but seemingly very content.

They loved to play dress up, neither of them big enough to fit into the clothes salvaged from mom’s old wardrobe and thrift shop throwaways. But they’d get the clothes on and manage to hike up a dress with one of dad’s old ties so that they wouldn’t trip. And they would be very proud of themselves and complimentary of each others fashion sense. Sometimes they’d dance and get so silly they’d fall down and giggle. Other times, Aine would read her little sister a story. Of course there were riffs between them. Of course they had their sister battles. But in the main, they were good together. And their laughter while doing things was infectious. They were companions, comrades, friends, sisters.

But now the school vacation is a week I dread. It is no longer filled with the voices of my two daughters. It is quiet. It is one sided. It is empty. Each vacation that has come and gone since Aine died has been torture, just trying to find ways to pass the time as quickly as possible so that we can get through the week and get back to a daily routine that provides distraction.

So much of what I now hate about these breaks is the heartbreak I see in my living daughter. I must tell you that our Bella is brilliant in that she gets on and entertains herself the best she can. But it is so obvious how lonely she is and how separated she is from her once normal life. My husband and I are her sources of entertainment at home now; play dates or day excursions are void of the life they once had. There is no natural joviality, no radiance. Everything is forced.

There will be more school vacations ahead. They will continue to be long arduous weeks. They will continue to be weeks left void of the sisters’ laughter. They will continue to be unnatural. But they will continue. And we will continue to try to make them just a little bit easier, just a little bit less unnatural with each passing year. We will continue to try and bring Bella some moments of brief happiness and make her feel that her life is precious and worthwhile and important to us. I can survive these weeks for her.

A website has been established in our daughter's name. Please click here for more information about our mission. - Aine Marie Phillips

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