British MP Jo Cox, 41, was fatally stabbed and shot by a right-wing extremist on June 16, 2016, in Leeds.
Now, her husband has written about what it was like to “end the charmed innocence” of the lives of their two young children. They were aged five and three when she died.
I told Cuillin and Lejla about Jo at my parents’ house. It was almost unbearable to end the charmed innocence of their lives. I hated what I had to do; I hated myself for having to do it. They absorbed the truth in different ways. I felt heartbroken for my children – but also determined to keep these shattering moments to ourselves as much as possible.
A couple of hours later Stacia, who is the kindest, most thoughtful person I know, and a trained teacher, came up with an idea we all liked. Each of us would write down some of our favourite memories of Jo – of Mummy – on small pieces of coloured paper. We would then hang these memories on the apple tree in Mum and Dad’s garden.
In this way Cuillin and Lejla and I, my parents, my sister and brother-in-law and their three sons, shared our most cherished snapshots of Jo. We wrote the words on to the tiny paper sheets and, before we hung each one on a branch, we read our memories out loud.
The kids liked doing it. The apple tree looked beautiful decorated with all our words. It seemed to have taken on fresh life. It was full of Jo, with even more paper memories of her than there were apples to be picked on that summer afternoon. The kids made fun of my awful drawings. We made it through supper and bath time, and then the crash came. The children could no longer hold anything more inside their little hearts.
Cuillin and Lejla cried bitter, painful tears. They were distressed, wanting to see Jo, calling for her, needing her more than ever. I tried everything I could think of but, in my exhausted grief, nothing seemed to work. When I began to sing they became even more upset. They wanted Mummy to sing to them, not me.