Nearly two years ago, I had this post sat in my drafts. It started off with me discussing how I didn’t really consider myself naive, but that month I learnt something new, which made me really rather naive. But actually fast forward two years and I think I am fairly naive in certainly aspects. For someone who turns thirty this week, I only dealt with a close death, those two years ago.
You see, up until then, I was incredibly lucky to be blessed with all four of my grandparents (technically, we could call it five, but that’s a different story). I also had the absolute pleasure of knowing both my great grandmothers until my late teens, my wonderful and caring Little Nan who I admired so much, and my Gran Gran, a sweet and soft soul, with a beautiful Dalmatian called lady. I have many fond memories of them all, both my grandparents and great grandparents, and I know that I’ll treasure them forever. And even more so, because as I came to realise in conversations with various other people, I am, I was extremely lucky.
And although I knew this wouldn’t last forever, there almost was this tiny part of me, that really did think this could last forever. They were already still around as I was a grown woman, so I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
February 3rd 2017, a day I don’t think I’ll forget in a hurry.
My little grandad, my fathers father. He was a kind and gentle man, and he was probably, actually, most definitely, how you’d picture a grandad to be. Like the grandads you know and love, and hear of. He enjoyed the simple things in life, and there honestly wouldn’t be a day go by when he didn’t have a smile on his face. He would often hum to the theme song of Last of the Summer Wine, with it becoming so routine, that it just became part of him. He always ate doughnuts, and cream cakes, even when pretending that he didn’t touch ‘bad foods’ as he’d say. And he hated confrontation so much, that it rarely happened around him. And he would always, always come and visit the family home, every single Sunday morning without fail. At 10am. With sweets, pocket money and kindness, before whizzing off down the street in his new car. He was a magpie, for anything new and shiny.
But he was so calm, carefree, and so selfless. And that everything he was and became, impacted my life in a way that I didn’t quite fully realise, until his passing. I feel like he helped me having a carefree and generous nature, but in an unassuming way, without force.
And just like that, he passed away. Unexpectedly.
So unexpectedly, that we weren’t prepared. We thought my dad had gotten names mixed up and we thought that it wasn’t true. It simply couldn’t be.
It couldn’t be possible, because we’d just welcomed in my first niece to the world, only the day before. Where everyone was full of such love, and happiness and warmth, and then within 24 hours, we were feelings of confusion, emptiness and loss. I wanted to smile for my niece, I really did. But I couldn’t when all I felt was shock and sadness. And still to this day, I now feel a huge sense of guilt, for not allowing myself the time to love my niece the way I should have, and was supposed to, in that first week. But I was so lost, lost knowing that I wouldn’t be seeing my little grandad whizzing down the road in some new car, or watching him smile when my dad told him something he didn’t want to hear.
That February taught me a lot of things.
It taught me that grief cannot be described, and it cannot be dealt with in a hurry. It taught me that you can’t question feelings, or worry why you can or cannot cry at certain times. And it taught me that it’s OK to feel empty, and unsure.
It also taught me a lot about my life.
I questioned anything and everything, and I picked myself apart so intently. At the time, I couldn’t see a way past my feelings. Because, I’d never dealt with this before, and I didn’t know how to. Everything felt so up in air, and I almost lived in fear of losing someone else. And however much people told me, it would get better, somehow I couldn’t quite believe them. Then I’d feel guilty again, and like I couldn’t be sad. Because people go through this daily, in much sadder circumstances. I just felt so so lost. Which I never quite expected.
I still sometimes feel lost now. Without him around.
I realised that the way he was, is how he taught me to be. My little grandad was possibly one of my biggest fans. And I’m forever grateful of that. Of him, for teaching me all of his ways, in his everyday life.
And now, I feel honoured. Honoured that I got to call this kind and gentle man, my little grandad.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”