Yesterday morning my grandmother-in-law passed away. It was half 8. I found out yesterday evening, when my mum came to tell me. I was sitting here, in my room. No tears, just sadness. We all knew it was coming.
It’s funny, how I seem to be in the same place every time I discover that another one of us has gone. Us, as in my family – the ‘ever-dwindling’ group around the proverbial fire. 2007 was a year for leaving. Three of us faded into the shadows. I remember sitting in this very spot when my mum told me about dad. I had known that was coming, too. The weight of the news didn’t settle immediately. For days, even weeks I sat staring out into the darkness among the trees. I couldn’t quite yet accept that it was final, that he was gone, that he wouldn’t be coming back. He left so quietly that his shadow still roamed out there, just beyond my vision, just beyond where the flickering light could reach.
Today, 2nd February, is my maternal grandad’s birthday. He died at the back end of July, almost four years ago. I remember him as a cheerful and independent man who loved his garden. He painted, he made beautiful things with his hands from wood. He built on a collection of household tools and gadgets to rival the contents of a hardware shop. He sold poppies.
When you lose someone, you realise that you didn’t know them as well as you thought. You remember all the questions you wanted to ask but never did. Stories come out, the kind that only emerge when people’s thoughts are settled on the one who has left; stories that you never heard before, that paint a completely different picture of the person you knew. Sometimes these stories are best left unspoken. Others are truly beautiful.