Around this time on this date four years ago I was standing across the road from the RE Bar where Josh lay on his own on a cold floor. He lay on the same spot where he took his last breath for 15 hours, on his own until he was brought out. I waited for him to come out so that I could touch him. I had left several hours before as I was asked to by the police, I was told to go home and to get some sleep and that nothing would happen until the forensic team arrived around 9.00am. I remember that I had some fitful rest while I lay in Josh’s bed, maybe an hour in total when my eyes closed, only to wake up with a jump in disbelief and shock. I did not know what I know now, that I was in profound shock and that my brain was working hard to protect me. I can’t describe the pain but it in that moment with it being so raw I was deeply and profoundly connected to Josh, it was like we were the same person, a connection that was formed when I carried him for 9 months. I held on and stood firmly in the same place for hours until I finally saw the shape of my Son’s body under a blanket on a trolley come out of the bar. I was allowed to go to him behind the police tape and place my hand over the blanket for which I will always be truly grateful for. Over time the intense pain that I felt started ti change, it became more distant and to be replaced by numbness. I miss the pain that kept me interlocked with Josh on a higher level in the days, weeks and months that followed his death because it was raw.
When I look back at our journey over the past four years as I am doing now while I write this blog I think why. Why did this happen to Josh, why does this happen to anyone. I look back on my journey and feel guilty for being so brave, for living my life while Josh doesn’t and for every memory that I have, every kiss or hug, every tear or smile that I have experienced that has happened without Josh being a part of it breaks my heart a little bit more. I kiss his photo’s, I talk to him, mostly internally because I find it so hard to speak out loud because it makes me feel so vulnerable and I still have some unfinished business before I can go there too. I wear his ring close to my heart and I sleep with his tee shirt as they give me comfort, they are a part of him, a part of the once smiling, happy, funny and beautiful young man that he was.
Josh’s lucky number was 4 he played it on roulette and it is also my birthdate so today is a very powerful day for me and I can feel Josh all around me giving me the strength that I need. I know that Josh is so proud of everything that Brooke and I have achieved from the relentless campaigning and fighting for justice to starting a charity that helps young people and their families, fighting against knife crime and everything in between. I know that his heart fills with joy and happiness when we are comforted, supported and loved by family and friends and those who have been by our sides on this heartbreaking journey from day one. And most of all I know that he wishes that he could share all that he is learning and has already learnt in heaven by God’s side with me so that I lean more to peace than pain. I am always thankful for the signs that he sends to me and I take comfort in knowing that when I am in the darkest of places that he sends an angel to me in the shape of a loved one, a friend or a stranger.
Today we celebrate Josh’s mass for the first time with justice. No longer do we have to share or celebrate his life alongside a campaign or manhunt, we have him all to ourselves, and we can rest wholly in his love. We will celebrate this evening showing a story of the past four years and all that Josh’s untimely and unjust death has helped us and many more of us to achieve in his memory. We will stand in God’s house where we stood on the 11th of October 2015 when we lay him to rest and we will smile for the beautiful soul that he is as we did then, unknowing what the future held. Josh is not and never was a victim, he is a life changer and his story that has been heard by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, will continue to be heard while touching hearts and giving others hope too.
Thank you again for everything that you have done and continue to do for me, for helping me to get here today, for helping me to get justice for Josh and for keeping him in your hearts. If you can not join us this evening please light a candle in memory of Josh, and knowing Josh the way that I do, I know that he will be blown away by your love for him, especially today as he rest in peace.
Sending you love and thanks always, Tracey, Brooke and Josh 💙❤️🙏🏻 xx #4yearanniversary #hope