I think of her often, and I can hear every nuance and expression of her voice and her speech in my mind. I can picture her face, see her sitting at her kitchen table eating slices of green apple with a confidence that became her; a practicality born of having lived enough, having learnt enough to be able to form whatever opinion she damn well pleased. She had such solid common sense. The older I grew, the more of my own life I lived, the more our conversations culminated in the sensation that my eyes had been opened, but my feet more firmly planted on the ground.
I miss her presence at family gatherings that haven’t even happened yet. Because the rest of us always seem to be distracted by mundane things that don’t really matter, it was always Gran that insisted we dance and laugh and wear party clothes.
Each and every time her death (her mortality, when she was an epic figure in my childhood and it’s always difficult to accept the mortality of demigods) my insides are washed with a sick, oily guilt. ’You have not grieved her yet, you have not mourned this at all…’ whispers a voice in the back of my mind. And there’s truth in that… I haven’t dealt with it, properly, not yet. But I can’t walk around, trying to be alive, all the while feeling guilty about that– these things happen in due time, when planets align and affairs have been settled, the kinks in karmic strings worked loose.
And because, really, while I occasionally think of myself as an expert in the experience of grief… I’ve only studied a very small part of it. I have mourned, intensely, but in an entirely different space. After Tony died I mourned someone young, something that happened suddenly, the loss my children were hurting for, my whole life torn apart.
Whereas now, I grieve for someone who was almost eighty one years old, and had been ill for long enough that she was ready to die. I mourn for the pain my own mother must be feeling. And I miss my grandmother, who had become my friend. Who taught me the beauty of growing things, and all the dignity that comes with loyalty.
It’s bearing witness to a life well lived, a culmination of years of hard work and happiness; versus wanting to follow someone’s body screaming into the fire and drag them back because surely the Universe got this wrong.
The light, the dark.
Guilt seems to be my default setting. I’m wondering how long it’s going to take, to talk myself out of that.