19 years ago today, a wonderful man left this earth but he has never left my heart, nor, I believe, my side. It took me a long time to accept that he was gone and now that I have dealt with my buried grief, I am able to face the heartache that his departure caused for 16-year-old me; I am able to learn from it, to be grateful for the good times we had together and to smile when I think about him.
This man was my grandad and he was like a second dad to me. I spent weekends and
long school holidays staying at the bungalow where him and my nan lived. He was house bound due to chronic illness and had been since I was born but he never let us know about any pain he was experiencing. He was always ready to share the colourful and lifelike photos of that month’s National Geographic or a game of wooden solitaire when we walked through the door.
I can still see my dad coming through the front door of our house on the dreaded day. He moved slowly and with his head hung low and I instantly knew. Knowing that he was going to tell us that grandad had gone was like someone reaching into my chest and ripping out my heart. Still is on days like today. Tears are flowing as I type.
In the midst of my initial grief, during those first few days, a poem spilled from my head, through my pen and onto the page. A poem that I then typed up on my grandad’s computer and handed out to the rest of the family.
It was a natural thing for me to write out my pain but less than two years later, feeling that I should ‘be over it by now’, I had stopped writing about him, unable to deal with the pain his loss was still causing me, I locked it up. A regret I will always live with.
It took a long time to come back to that pain but, with professional help, I did and my gosh, it hurt, but it was also so very worth it. My life is lighter for having faced it and now when I think of him, I am grateful. Grateful to have experienced loving someone so deeply and to have felt so loved back. (Part of my healing process was to create a ‘bucket list’ which I renamed my ‘I am Living List’- it encouraged me to look for the good stuff in life and can be found here)
For anyone experiencing grief, in any form, please accept this post as two arms reaching out to hug you, to encourage you to write it out, to seek professional guidance if necessary and to know that you are not alone. I hope the poem written by 16-year-old me brings some inspiration for you to write a few healing words of your own. It’s worth it, I promise.
Grandad, I will love you forever and a day xxx