Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and 9 months 

And somehow we’ve got through those. A few more firsts, nine months total. It feels crazy and still incredibly sad that a year ago we were in Tenerife on a happy family holiday. 

Valentine’s Day involved the Jichevs together for brunch and flowers to the cemetery. A few cries over mum’s card to dad last year. A bit of appreciating our time together. An Arsenal match. Another first without mum. 


Mother’s Day equally hard. Facebook posts of friends celebrating with their mothers were lovely but unhelpful in reminding us of our own gap. I ran a half marathon (slow) in honour, and think mum would have appreciated it… I hope she’s watching somewhere.
Nine months was a small family gathering in the Bulgarian church. Unbelievable and surreal mostly, thinking Mum would come back from her business trip. 


The next day we ran to the cemetery. It was a beautiful spring day, and some time to reflect and catch her up on the half marathon, dad’s acting career, Gigi’s new job. Life goes on in a way, and not in others. 


Reflecting on Memorial Service -Thank You

It’s been three weeks since we had the opportunity to share some time with those of you able to attend the Memorial Service. It was a warm, open hearted, generous evening, made possible by all your contributions. 

Of course there were lots of tears too, but the love of all who spoke, filmed a video, Catherine’s amazing catering and Boston University exceptional kindness in hosting us – those all shone through. With the marathon, a job change, semester in full swing – it’s only this evening I’m getting a moment to sit with a cup of tea and remember flashes of that special evening.

I know that those of you who were unable to attend would value a few photos. Guests have kindly shared these with us.

With much love xxxx


Another difficult occasion: birthdays 

Today is dad’s 61st birthday, and the first in 31 years without mum. 

It’s hard – we’re trying to do nice things, but doesn’t really fill the huge space. Evvy designed the most beautiful card, which sums up how we feel: a lot of love, tinged with sadness. 

There are many more occasions coming up, and don’t know whether it will get easier. In the meantime, honouring Jichev theatre-going occasions to the full. 


Photos from Shine Night Marathon for Cancer Research UK 

On Saturday, dad, Gigi and I took part in a marathon walk raising money for lung cancer. Without doubt, one of the biggest physical & mental challenges we have embarked on.

If you would like to sponsor us, you still can! Dad took a little bit of time to in setting up his JustGiving page but it is here and wonderful!

Support Andrey – he’s awesome!

Wooo Gigi did it!

And so did Denny, her legs hurt now. Worth a £10?
Sharing a few photos, will write more extensively about the experience soon!



Three months 

Saturday 12th September marked three months since mum died. Three months of mostly feeling surreal, sometimes angry, sometimes like everything is hollow. Moments of “getting on” with things, or ploughing your way through the bureaucracy that is probate.

We spent Saturday morning planting flowers at the cemetery. Suspect mum would have laughed at our gardening skills; much love went into it. Told her about our latest training efforts for the marathon walk*, and the week, new rotation to Scotland Office, prep for the Memorial Service. I think that would have made her happy.

*Gigi’s marathoning & Denny’s marathoning

I’m going to pause here because today is a bad day. So many people have written of the difficulty of getting in touch, putting it into words. I work with words – whether it’s marketing, policy, strategy, leadership development – so many, many words. And none are right.

Miss you x

Baby photos 

As we’re sat at home on a rainy Bank Holiday, looking through photos.  Here are a few – you have to marvel at the patience of young parents, especially given I was clearly not the prettiest of babies: 


Still, incredibly excited to see mum:   


We arrived in Burgas last Tuesday. We always knew it was going to be a difficult trip home – seeing family and friends, reliving the experience, memories at every corner… 

There have been many tears. At the same time, it’s been really good to see everyone, and to hear new stories about mum, and to offer that opportunity to mourn together. On her name day, we had an intimate lunch to celebrate her name day. 

   Given the Black Sea connection, it involved large quantities of delicious fresh fish – the sort mum loved. 
OOne of the highlights was a poetry reading by Ivan – he had been moved to write a poem remembering mum (to be uploaded soon). 


Thank you to Autoneum

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had mysterious calls for Denny Jicheva at Cromwell Hospital. After giving them our home address, a mysterious package arrived. We spent a lot of time wondering what it could be – felt like a message from mum. 

Opened the parcel and there was a condolence book from Autoneum – messages from all over the world, remembering mum, expressing their condolences. It’s such a beautiful book and so thoughtful:  

And though we couldn’t help but get teary again, we will treasure it always. Thank you Kevin and Martin. 

Memorial Service: Save The Date

Dear all,

We have now confirmed the date of the Memorial Service as the 24th September, 2015. We will update with more details as we confirm timings, but the location will be Central London (near Gloucester Road).

If you would like to contribute to a part of the service, we will be creating a video to commemorate. Share any photos/ videos you would like of Maria, including, for example a 2 min film of yourself talking about your memories (most smartphones have the capability). Share any contributions with 

With much gratitude for all your support over the last weeks,

Andrey, Denny and Gigi


40 days: Ascension

Today marks forty days since mum died. In the Christian Orthodox tradition, it’s the day that the soul goes up to heaven – mirroring Christ’s Ascension. You mark it with a ceremony by the graveside, giving out “zhito” (plumped up pearl barley with cinnamon, lemon and lots of icing sugar) and a libation of red wine. Sarah, who was an essential part of the funeral service, read out the verses as we placed red roses on the grave.

It gave us a chance to reflect, be at peace – under the bright afternoon sun, on the slightly parched grass, wind frisking the trees. Forty days can feel like an eternity; it can also feel like no time at all. In forty days, you feel the full gamut of emotions: the feeling of living in a mirage, where you see everything through a sheath of tears; see-sawing between anger and resignation at the smallest IT glitch; waking up with that hollow, empty feeling; sometimes feeling nothing at all. In the early days, there’s a strange claustrophobia of “normal” things – overcrowded trains, loud music, seeing friends you haven’t yet seen. You’re living in the mirage and nothing can be the same old normal.

One thing that’s got us through, as well as hundreds of incredible people’s support, is the knowledge that mum would want us to forge on. She’d want us to take all the things she taught us, and go do things with them. That’s been the tiny glimmer of real in the mirage. There’s her unfailing optimism, her drive, her love of people and focusing on the other, her generosity. I’ve never felt so comforted by a long “To Do” list and doing Race for Life felt so uplifting, for all of us. My sister was amazing in getting her friends together for the Race; I’ve dusted skirting boards with great vigour.

One of the things that stands out in the mirage is meeting one of my coachees for coffee in Westminster Abbey cafe. It was my first week back at work, and it had been arranged before everything changed. I had woken up and it was a heavy sadness day. I was slightly dreading it, because I didn’t think I was in a place where I could offer anything useful when I really wanted to hide under a duvet for the day.  I started the conversation on autopilot: over time, it took me out of the mirage; the high vaulted ceiling seemed more real. I noticed and made a pleasant remark to the waiter. Talking over her experience, focusing on someone else’s challenges and asking a few questions – that helped. It was a lesson in that magnanimity, that generosity, that other-orientation mum was a maestro at. Even a much poorer attempt made a difference.

After the ceremony, we went to Bloom with my cousins. On saying goodbye, after tea and cake, we had a group hug. It felt “mum”.

This evening, we went for a walk along the river, as we’ve done countless times over the years. The Thames was that beautiful, shimmering silver at dusk. It looked like a Turner, or a Whistler, with a Gatsby-esque green light. Just over Hammersmith Bridge, the clouds had opened up, as if mum was on her way up – no doubt to go for a run, dance salsa, eat cherries, have a Skype session.

We miss you, mum. You are always with us. We always love you.