The night my grandfather died. It never seems to matter that I have graced hospital corridors with my presence for other, more pleasent reasons, like my little sister being born for instance. Somehow, that’s still all they remind me of; death, loss and being alone.
Of course in the town where I live, there are only two hospitals so the chances of me ending up at the exact one my grandfather passed away in are highly likely and when you see the familiar corridors and the horrible waiting rooms it all hits you like a ton of bricks what happened that night.
I won’t go into that bit in detail. Six years ago a lecturer of mine told me that though my writing was impressive it was far too emotional. Six hours ago someone else told me more or less the exact same thing. Actually this time I was strongly advised against writing emotionally. I’ve taken this on board and can confirm that it’s a work in progress situation. I promise.
Seeing as writing is therapy for me though and I am in desperate need for something to do to kill the God knows how many hours of insomnia I have ahead of me. Here goes nothing…
A year ago I completed the most naiive story anyone has ever attempted to write. In said story, I included an elderly charachter whose death I based on my grandfather’s so if you had the misfortune of reading the book you’ll know how he died.
The night he died, was the first time I experienced loss of a loved one that I knew really well. I’m not going to sit here and paint it out like we were very emotionally close. Due to his illlness and loss of ability to communicate, this was not the case. But I would say with confidence that out of all his grandkids, he probably interacted with me the most.
So, actually his death was probably the first time I truly felt the very slow transition of emotional pain into phsycial pain. Actually it was the second, the first being the night the prick I was supposed to marry decided he had a change of mind after I basically gave him everything I had to give, from promises to sacrafices. I was too polite at the time to say that he caused me that much pain. I was fucking apologetic and worried that the thought that he caused me pain would reach his radar and hurt him somehow. You know for the record, if you ever find someone that cares about you even in your absence that’s not someone you should push away, let alone screw over.
And when I say pain, it’s not just the kind you see in the movies you know. It hits you square in the chest. This cramp like sensation that paralyses you to the point where you are deprived from taking a deep breath because your chest contracts to a size that will only allow enough air in for survival but no where near enough for relief.
Having left his body in the hospital we went home. And life laughed at us as my grandad’s walking frame was the first sight to greet us as we entered his house painfully reminding us lest we forgot that he was no longer amongst us.
We all went to different rooms in the house to try and sleep though who were we kidding? No one was going to sleep that night. It was November so it was freezing. I don’t know if it was the cold or the shock but I was shaking like mad. I found myself a duvet and looked for someone to sit next to for comfort. Because though I put up this front of being a rock alone… anyway. Everyone was taken. Kind of like in school when everyone has to choose a partner and you are the odd one out. I dragged myself to the living room, laid on the sofa, in the dark with this duvet and honestly just tried to find a comfortable balance between crying and regulating my breathing.
One a.m. became two and that became three then four and five. No sleep. Just extreme fatigue. Eyes so dry it actually stung to blink. Come 8 a.m. it hit me that he had been gone for 12 hours.
If 12 hours felt like that, how were we ever going to make it to 12 months? Going on without him didn’t seem like an option. The light at the end of the tunnel was gone. For me, I’d never seen my mother look so broken and I honestly worried for how she was going to recover and how it would affect our family.
You ever hear that saying life goes on? I hate that saying. But it’s true. Life did go on. I went from being so depressed I genuinely believed I would never eat chocolate again to very obviously realising I needed to find other ways of showing sadness and respect for Nana’s memory because giving up chocolate was a daft sacrafice to make, frankly.
I spent the next few months apologising to him whenever I went to his grave. I would say things like, “I’m sorry we moved on Nana.” Knowing fully well he could not hear me. And that if he could he would tell me off for being silly and assure me that that’s how it was supposed to happen. Actually the last thing he said to me before losing all conciousness was literally, “don’t cry Tam, I’ve done everything I have come here to do and now I shall depart this world in peace.”
I can only hope that I am this dignified if I have the privilege of actually knowing that my life was coming to an end in a matter of days. And I now know that in the large scheme of things, all the shit I get majorly worried about can cease to mean anything in one moment of devestation that literally slaps a lot sense back into you and makes you see reason. That is all it takes. One moment to change everything you believed to be of meaning. One moment for you to realise that it meant nothing at all.