I was eleven when my Nan died. Imagine a person who brings color into every room, into every darkest corner, and every hug she gave could heal any wounded heart.
That was her.
I was too young to fully understand what loss was, I didn’t know how to grieve it, I just knew that I was sad and that I missed her. My Grandad and my Nan had been together since they were kids, the storybook love as you’d call it. He lost his best-friend the day she left us. I remember asking him teary-eyed, “What are you going to do now?” and he replied, “I have you and your mum.” I didn’t understand how he could be so strong, how he wasn’t crying every second and how despite it all he still stood there in all his former glory, remaining the same Grandad I so doe-eyed admired since being 3 years old. I admired him a little bit more since that day.
I remember it hurting to see my Mum hurting, she too lost her best friend, her confidant, the person who told her things she didn’t really want to hear but she knew would work out in her favor anyway. The first few years were hard, every Christmas it hurt a little bit more to see that empty chair at the dining table. My mum still set a place for her and somehow, we felt she was still there. It brought a somewhat bittersweet comfort to all of us.
You never really stop missing someone, you never really get over it. You just learn to live with it.
As I grew older, my shell hardened and I started to cry a little less. When I thought of her, the first feelings that shot around my body weren’t feelings of sadness or heartache, but feelings of lightheartedness. All because, I had the pleasure of knowing her, of feeling the warmth she so effortlessly emitted. I had the pleasure of encountering every laugh, every joke, every smile exchanged over the dinner table.
I had it all.
So now, when I hear her song, or I have a bad day and I think of what she would say. I still shed a tear, but most of all, I smile. I smile because I had a woman in my life who was so full of love, so full of tenderness, full of everything I could only ever wish to be someday. Losing someone you love is never easy, it takes a part of your heart away that was devoted only to them. The thought of knowing you can never hear their voice or feel their touch again, I don’t think that type of pain will ever go away. I still hear her singing along to her favorite songs, I see parts of her in my Mum, I relive her through the stories my Grandads tells us as if she’s still here. And it makes me feel whole.
It hurts that we don’t get a choice of who leaves us in this world or who stays. But, we can choose how we hurt, and we can choose how we let it change us. I appreciate things more now because of her.
I still miss her every day, but part of me has healed knowing that she loved me, and I loved her just that little bit more.