Just the other week I wrote about grief… incongruous grief really… the kind that has derived from my boy not napping everyday… I am grieving about losing my often only bit of ‘me time’ until my head hits the pillow at the end of the day. It’s in jest, mostly, because it’s a natural part of life… we all stop taking day naps eventually… although I know many people, 2 females in my immediate family in particular, who’d love an arvo nap daily! 😛 But just because something is a ‘natural’ part of life, it doesn’t make it easy to deal with.
I’m talking real grief now… the kind that comes with acknowledging, accepting and moving on from death.
My dear Nanna passed away at the end of August, aged 86, in her sleep. My Dad’s Mum, she had survived her husband, my Poppy by 22 years. He died in his 60’s of lung cancer, and unfortunately I don’t remember many specifics about him, he was just always there at Nanna’s house sitting in his arm chair with a blanket across his lap eating mints after dinner. I know more about him now as an adult as I have spent time asking my Dad, Uncle and Nanna about him… but they aren’t really my memories; they are someone else’s. But my Nanna, she was so incredibly real and alive to me, that thinking about her now after her passing brings such a huge array of emotions I often don’t quite feel equipped to name them all.
My Nanna Phyliss, was the true matriarch of our clan. Being without her husband for such a large chunk of her life, she really was the tips of the branches of our family tree.
Even though she was my Grandmother, I never really envisaged saying goodbye to her, she was always such a constant presence in our lives and so much stronger than she realised. She bounced back from illness, injury and major changes in her life with the help of our family, and returned to her normal joking, blunt and loving self each time. I never quite expected her to be gone for good. But, whilst writing a speech for her funeral with my sisters and cousin, I realised how supremely lucky we were to have her for so long.
So blessed to have my Nanna at our wedding almost 4 years ago
But does that make losing her easier? Because in comparison to other people I’ve had my grandparent around for longer? No. I actually think it makes it harder, because she became such a constant part of my thought process and daily wonderings… I’m looking forward to seeing Nanna today… I wonder how Nanna is doing… I bet Nanna would think this is hilarious… etc… that I can’t quite grip the fact that she is not in my present and future anymore. Physically at least. Her love for her children, grandchildren and great grandchild live on, but I can’t visit her anymore, call her, kiss her hello or expect to see her at every family event, occasion, or just weekend BBQ.
I’m supposed to be adept at this writing thing, yet I still can’t seem to put it in words.
In just the same way that I still find it ridiculously amazing that 2 cells from 2 different human beings can create ANOTHER PERSON, I can’t emotionally comprehend that a person that you have always known, a person that you have always loved, is gone.
However hard this is for me, I can only imagine the degree of pain my Dad and Uncle have felt in their period of mourning. They can’t talk to their Mum anymore… how is that a reality? Talking to our parents; something we so often take for granted. My crazy brain then extrapolates that to a day when I’m no longer here and Raff becomes the one on the receiving end of this cycle of grief. If you think about it too much you can only delve into eternally morbid thoughts about how hard saying goodbye to the people we love is, and how we only ever hope for the best for our children, but inevitably they will go through the pain of losing us because that is the way of life. No one lives forever. We know this. But… death is still hard. Death, even of the elderly is still a very sad time of melancholy and heart ache.
Did my Nanna have a great life? Yes. Did she have wonderful friends, and family and love all around her? Absolutely. But, I don’t feel like rationalising her death, we are all still just sad and we wish she was here.
I haven’t told you much about who my Nanna was as a person; she was pretty amazing. But I’ll leave you with what I said in our reflection from her funeral and hopefully you get a sense of the impact she had on not just my life, but our whole family’s.
These memories would never have eventuated if it wasn’t for Nanna. Yes, she brought our Fathers into this world, but it was this other gift she has of bringing us all together that I still can’t name. Matriarch, yes, but it was more than that. It was like she was the Sun and us all the planets in her solar system, revolving around her and spinning in our own way. Just like the Sun’s gravity is needed to keep the planets alive and orbiting, we needed Nanna.
We all loved you so much and will miss you forever.