IT was the painful pilgrimage Jade Goody’s mother feared she might never feel able to make.
So it is little wonder that as Jackiey Budden visited her tragic daughter’s grave for the first time in FIVE YEARS, she felt overcome with emotion.
Collapsing in tears, Jackiey lovingly planted a kiss on Jade’s headstone before laying flowers on the ground.
She placed a teardrop-shaped stone on the ground that read “a tear for my daughter” and hung a plaque from the tree with the words “you are all kinds of amazing”, before giving the site a gentle spruce up.
For years the 62-year-old had found it too heartbreaking to visit the cemetery in Upshire, Essex.
But as she prepares to mark ten years since Jade died, leaving behind sons Bobby, now 15, and Freddie, 14, Jackiey finally felt able to spend an emotional afternoon there.
In a moving interview with The Sun, Jackiey said: “I used to visit Jade all the time when the boys were young. I’d lay down a blanket and have my lunch with her. But for the last five years I couldn’t do it.
“I can’t really explain why I couldn’t go. I would get as far as the cemetery gates then I’d have to give someone else the flowers to lay down because I just couldn’t go in.
“I really wanted to go for this anniversary so I took a deep breath and went. It was lovely walking through for the first time in so long.
“I gave her a kiss and told her I miss her so much, but I’m so glad she’s not in pain any more. Those are the same words I say when I say a prayer for her every night.
“I told her that the boys are doing grand, that I’m well and that I hope she’s proud of us.
“As I was walking away there was a huge gust of wind and then I just broke down.
“It felt like some kind of homecoming. I’m so glad I went and I plan to go back every year now.”
Reality TV star Jade died on Mother’s Day in 2009 — March 22 — aged 27 from cervical cancer.
Jackiey, who lives in South East London, spent the evening before her recent cemetery visit with Jade’s sons.
They went bowling with the boys’ father Jeff Brazier, 39, who has had full custody of them since Jade’s death and recently married girlfriend Kate Dwyer in Portugal.
Jackiey says: “It’s always a tough time of year for us all.
“Bobby holds in his emotions but Fred really struggles to deal with the grief of losing his mum.
Jade married Jack Tweed before she passed away[/caption]
“It takes one child to say to Fred something like, ‘You don’t need to get a Mother’s Day card.’ ”
Among projects undertaken by formal dental nurse Jade after she shot to fame on Big Brother in 2002 were three workout DVDs — which now provide comfort to her family.
Jackiey continues: “When the boys come to my house, if we’re having a sad day we’ll put on Jade’s DVDs and watch them together.
“Freddie sometimes sneaks off with one of her DVDs and we’ll find him watching it by himself in his room.
“There Jade is, doing all her moves, and Freddie loves it. They’re such great boys and Jade would be so proud.
“Both of them look like her. Fred’s got his mum’s big teeth. Bobby is Jade’s ‘little me’. He’s really into his performance and arts and I think he’ll grow up to be a star.”
The two have also inherited many of their mum’s habits.
Jackiey says: “When Jade was little she’d lay on the sofa with the quilt over her watching the fireworks on Bonfire Night while we were all outside. Bobby does exactly the same.”
In the months before her death Jade worked hard to build a financial nest egg for her boys and it was her dying wish they attend private school.
While Bobby still does, Freddie, who was diagnosed with ADHD, has transferred to a state comprehensive near his Essex home. Jackiey said: “Private school didn’t work for Freddie.
If Jade were here, she would agree with Jeff. Freddie has settled well into his new school. He’s got friends and he’s getting on brilliantly.”
Perhaps in light of the trauma of losing their mum, Jackiey admits she can be overprotective.
She says: “Whenever they call, I’m always asking them how it is going at school and if they’re being bullied.
“I ask them questions any grandmother would.
“I drive them mad sometimes. They are coming to stay with me soon. I’ve booked tickets to an illusion show.” Jackiey admits she and Jeff have had their differences over the years.
Until recently, Jackiey had not seen the boys in person for almost a year and had only spoken to them on the phone. Yet she is full of praise for him as a father. She stresses: “Mine and Jeff’s problems have been nothing to do with the boys. He is a really great dad.”
The pair plan to join forces for a quiz in aid of the charity foundation set up in Jade’s memory.
After splitting from TV host Jeff, Jade went on to date Jack Tweed, 31. The pair wed in an emotional ceremony just weeks before Jade’s death.
Although Jackiey hasn’t seen Jack, now a builder, since her daughter’s funeral she said: “Jack and Jade would still be married now if she were alive, 100 per cent.”
Jackiey plans to honour the tenth anniversary of Jade’s death with her touching daily ritual. She explained: “I have two shrines to Jade — one in the house and one in the garden. Every night I light candles, say a prayer and tell her how much I miss her.”
Jackiey is not afraid to admit the past decade without her daughter has been devastating.
She said: “When people realise it has been ten years they say, ‘Hasn’t it gone quick.’But it hasn’t to me.
“I went to a very dark place. I couldn’t sleep because I was going over things. I was suicidal and wouldn’t even go outside my house.”
Shortly before the first anniversary of her daughter’s death, Jackiey, who struggled with drug problems throughout Jade’s upbringing, was filmed snorting cocaine and in 2012 she tried to kill herself. But she told how she has battled to stay clean for her daughter and grandsons.
“The boys will never have that part of me in their life. It’s history. Jade would be so proud of me.”
Help came from The Jeremy Kyle Show psychotherapist Graham Stanier after Jackiey went on the show in 2012.
Jackiey, who still takes antidepressants, recalls: “He’d ring me quite frequently just to check I was OK. He went out of his way to see me through it. He gave me my life back.” But Jackiey has also drawn huge comfort over the years from the many happy memories of Jade such as their caravan holidays in Canvey Island, Essex, when Jade was growing up.
She says: “Jade loved to do karaoke. One night there was a karaoke competition in the club house and she won it. She won £500.
“The next day we were in the caravan and we heard a knock on the door.
“It was the security man saying she had to give the money back.
“You had to be 18 to enter but Jade was only 14. We didn’t know. Jade was mortified. It was hilarious.”
Jackiey told how when Jade was five, her carefree hobbies of tap- dancing, gymnastics and martial arts came to an abrupt end when Jackiey lost the use of her left arm in a devastating motorbike smash.
Jackiey says: “I could no longer take Jade to all her activities.
“I couldn’t do anything. Jade had to do all the washing, ironing and cleaning.” Jackiey used much of her compensation from the accident to travel the world with her daughter.
Once, they went on holiday to Egypt but ended up living in Cairo for seven months.
And despite Jade’s famously poor grasp of geography — believing “East Angular” was a real location abroad — Jackiey recalls: “Jade went to school there and learned Arabic.”
Jackiey was by Jade’s side when she died at her home in Upshire, Essex.
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Afterwards she campaigned, along with The Sun, for women to attend their smear tests — and believes Jade would be furious that screening rates are at their lowest levels in 20 years.
She said “It’s a kick in the teeth after all the hard work we put in.”
But Jackiey is clear Jade’s most lasting legacy is her boys and she is determined to help support them through this difficult anniversary.