Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Catching my breath

It's been a while since I last blogged but life hasn't been quiet here. In November my heart was ripped open again when my grandfather died. It wasn't a totally unexpected loss, he was 98, but up until a few months before his passing he was full of life still and I think we all dared to believe he would reach his century. He was and remains my inspiration in life, his wasn't a life untouched by tragedy; he fought a hard WW2, seeing action in North Africa and Italy (where he saw his best friend beheaded by machine gun fire), he lost both his wife and daughter (my mum) to breast cancer aged just 58 and 42 years respectively. Shortly after losing my mum I remember somebody asking him if he ever asked "why me?" to which he replied "no because that would imply I wished it on somebody else instead."
He was tolerant and non-judgmental, he believed few people were inherently bad and whilst he would never condone bad behaviour nor excuse it, he understood that a myriad of circumstances could lead people into making certain life decisions. A prime example being following the 2011 riots when he talked of a poverty of hope and aspirations.
He was fun too, so much fun. His jokes were awful but told with such relish, you couldn't help but laugh. Growing up all the children in our neighbourhood called him 'Grandad' and I remember feeling so proud. To know him was to love him.
He found Simon's suicide very hard. They had a bond when Simon was growing up, he loved us equally but they had a special understanding and I think it hurt him deeply that Simon didn't feel he could come to him. His cause of death was pneumonia secondary to lung cancer but I do wonder if Simon's death just made him that bit more tired of life. His decline was noticeable and rapid between August and November.
I was honoured to be able to help organise his funeral. My uncle (his son) has never married and lived with him, as my mum is dead and my other brother lives away it meant I was the person able to be there to support my uncle through those difficult days. It was obviously a hard time, perhaps particularly so coming so soon after helping organise another funeral and there were days where I didn't really want  to wake up and face the reality of my losses. However, knowing I was there to support my uncle and that we gave Grandad the funeral he deserved was of some comfort and if anything good has come of these last few months it's the reminder of the importance of family and the need to spend time with our loved ones.
To add to my mental turmoil on the day Grandad passed away we found a buyer for our house so as well as registering a death and organising a funeral I was house hunting and making decisions affecting our future. There were many days where I felt my head would explode and I'm not really sure how much I truly remember of November and December, much of it feels a blur.
We moved at the end of January and it's only now I feel like I can catch my breath. I'm still not entirely sure I've grieved Simon's death properly, perhaps I never will. In some ways I would have liked life to stop a bit so I could take the time to come to terms with my loss, with Grandad's death and the house move coming so soon afterwards it feels as though I've been pushed to move on before I was ready.
I'm doing ok, I can look at photos of Simon now without crying and he's not my first thought when I wake up. The flashbacks have mostly stopped too. I still have moments when I lie in bed at night and silently weep when I think of my loss and of what he must have gone through and I guess that for as long as I live I'm going  to have that aching sense of something missing. Mostly though I'm all right, life feels calmer and I'm going to take the opportunity to breathe and appreciate what I had and what I still have.

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