Three little words, so full of pain and sadness. In three words, I can sum up years of love, anger, pain, hope, frustration, exasperation, and commitment.
I wish that I could see you one more time, but that chance is now lost to me. You have moved on. You will no longer stroke my hair as I sleep or be there to comfort me in my darkest hours. You won’t be there to make me laugh until my sides hurt and tears stream down my face. You are gone, and nothing I do will bring you back.
Sometimes I think I see you, right there in front of me. I see you in shopping malls, in restaurants, in libraries and bookstores. I turn to run to you, but then I realise that I’m not truly looking at you, only at someone who looks like you, and my heart breaks all over again.
I know you’ll be happier where you are, but the selfish, childish, stupid and irrational part of me wants you here with me, where you belong. I am angry. I am frustrated, I am hurt, and yes, even though it would infuriate you, I am jealous. Not just slightly envious, but ridiculously jealous. Others get to see you, to be with you. Not me. How do I come to terms with that? You’d tell me not to be so silly. You’d smile that perfect smile and say “oh come now. You’re being selfish, and it doesn’t suit you.” I would smile back and nod; of course you’re right. Knowing that, and being able to control the jealousy that rises up in my stomach every time I think of those who now can see you and be with you, are two very different things. They get you. I get a bunch of memories and some old photographs. It’s not fair.
I admit that through my tears there are some smiles. On my last birthday you teased me mercilessly about how old I was getting, then laughed out loud at my passionate objections. I was hurt at the time, my arm in plaster. You still managed to make me laugh. That was your way. I’ll miss that.
At Christmas you watched the family gathered together. We drank too much, we ate too much. None of us knew it would be the last time. Well, maybe you did. Maybe you knew the time to leave was coming fast. Who really knows except you? I just wish that had you known, that you had not promised another Christmas Day with me.
There’s a part of me that wants to scream at you. I want to tell you I hate you for leaving. Just thinking those words makes me feel preposterous. You know I could never hate you. I hate the fact that you’re not here. That is easy to hate. You however, are not.
Why? Why did you leave? Was it me? Was it something I did? Or was it simply just time to move on? I know the answers will never come. At least, not in a way I’ll ever be able to understand.
I wear your ring, a constant reminder of you. One small ring that holds so much emotion is difficult to wear, but even harder to remove. Its smooth golden surface may be slightly worn, but it’s the most precious thing I own. The diamonds may not be as sparkly as they once were, but to me they shine as brilliantly as a thousand stars. It’s a symbol of you and of the love you had for me. It’s something I can hold and touch. Not like you. I will never look in your eyes again. I’ll never see your smile or hear your laugh. I’ll never hear you sing or tell your stories again. You’re just…gone.
I know that sometimes I said stupid, foolish things that hurt you. I know I argued with you and yelled at you and treated you badly. I took you for granted, far more than I ever intended to. I suppose I never really saw a life that didn’t have you in it. I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself for that. I hope that you can.
You did your share of yelling too. Remember? Oh you had a temper. The Irish blood, I think. You could scare the biggest of them all with a single glare. Looking back on it now I think I was in awe of your ability to do that. I will never have that much of a presence.
Our relationship was intense. A love so whole, and so pure, that it can never be replaced. Nobody else can fill the void that has been left in my soul. I wouldn’t want them to even try.
You were my Grandmother. My rock. My beautiful, tough, hilarious Nanna who could cook up a storm, feed and house countless kids, care endlessly for your family, and do it all with a smile on your face and a song on your lips.
I can only hope to be half the woman you were.
I will always be jealous of the angels who get to watch over you, and the family we’ve lost along the way who now get to be with you. Yet I have a lifetime of memories, years of smiles and laughs, of hugs and kisses. I have your strength, your hope. I will continue to tell your stories no matter how badly I tell them. I’ll do it with a smile on my face and a song on my lips. I’ll make you proud.
I told you one day not so long ago that I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for you. I hope you know I meant it.
I will miss you always, but for now I am content to imagine you dancing forever under African skies, with Grandad at your side.
I miss you.