Before anyone reads this letter, this letter is written as a form of “writing therapy”. I talk about death, grief etc. I also talk about my nan and how friggin awesome she is. its not all doom and gloom I promise. Its also kind of fitting that it was mental health day this week, and i kind of touch on it here. Anyway like I said. mainly a letter to and about my nan. Also contains some pretty awesome pictures of her.
I love this picture of you and Grandad. I don’t know how old you were. But it makes my heart all warm and fuzzy. Grandad gave it to me on christmas day, the year before he died. It was only a little bigger than a postage stamp this photo. He had it in your old bus pass wallet, along with a picture of me, aged 2 ish on my little trike with a bobble hat on. He said he wanted me to have it and I immediately hugged him tight and gave him a kiss on his cheek. He melted my heart and made my christmas magical. It was like he was giving me a piece of history, it felt like he was giving me a piece of him. Looking back now its life he knew that was the last christmas we were going to have together. Like he knew there wasnt going to be a better time to give me it.
I photocopied that photo and carried it in my own bus pass that year, and i hid it in my pocket when I had my GCSEs and it felt like I had you both with me. Stupid and soppy as that sounds, its exactly how i felt, and it kept me calm whilst everything was happening.
Today, 13 years ago, you grew your wings.
I think about you every day not just on your birthday or the 13th of October (the day you left). I often write posts about you, but rarely publish them. Today I think I will press the upload button.
I’ve always been quite angry with the fact that you died. It wasn’t just angry about you growing your wings, it was the fact that you died when I was 7, and I always felt that having 7 years with you wasn’t enough. When you left, I didn’t cry. not properly. I didn’t really start to grieve for you until fairly recently and even then I don’t think I’ve ever really cried about it. I’m not entirely sure why, but I had it in my head that I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t show my grief, or my sadness. I had to be a big girl. I had to be a big girl and be there for everyone else. I didn’t go to your funeral. I asked mum what it was all like, and she said it would be sad, people would cry. I chose not to go. I went and spent the day with a friend and her family. I had it in my head that I would be failing you if I went and cried in front of everyone. They were dealing with their own grief they didn’t need to deal with mine too. I did however go to the scattering of your ashes. I stood and left without shedding a single tear.
Being 7 at the time, the whole situation and the grief that i experienced was a tough thing for a little girl to carry around with her. Yet I did carry it around with me. Never really talking about it. I’d talk about you all the time, at every opportunity, but I wouldn’t really talk about how it all made me FEEL. Mum and I would talk about you all the time. There would be times at Auntie Carole’s that we would all talk about you, about funny things that happened, like the time I emptied by Pee filled Potty in to your handbag and you ended up with soggy fags (sorry about that nan). I knew I missed you, we all did, and I thought that I had dealt with my grief. Little did I know that I hadn’t even started. I didn’t even realise that I was carrying it all with me.
It actually wasn’t until I met Natalie that I started to realise. I would talk to Nat about almost everything going on in my mind. One day, this was just a few months after I had lost Grandad, we sat there talking about death. Something we talked about a lot, and I suddenly blurted out exactly how I felt about losing you. I remember holding my breath after, Waiting. I don’t really know what I was waiting for. Nat didn’t say anything at first, she just grabbed my hand and pulled me close to her, cuddled me and I cried. And I honestly think that was the first time I had cried for you. Its weird writing that. It was such a private moment and I’ve never really told anyone about it. As far as I am aware The only ones who knew were myself and Nat (and bailey the dog who didn’t know what the hell was happening to his lanaloo). After that I had so much going on in my brain I pushed it aside. It wasn’t until a year or two later that I had counselling and later after that, a psychiatrsist, that I started to properly process my grief. That’s when I first started writing all these letters.
I’ve written hundreds. Letters to you, to grandad, to Nat, to my nanny J who I never met, to faith, to auntie Terry to auntie Rita, to pretty much everyone. I keep them saved on my computer, rarely uploading them as some are too private for me to share. Writing about it all helped me process it , and deal with my grief. It helped me through it all. I wish I could write to my 7 year old self and tell her its going to be okay. Recently with the influx of emails I get from my readers, I’ve decided to start talking about it all more openly on my blog. I want to help people. I think you always knew I wanted to help people. I was obsessed with playing “doctors” with Zo and Brendan. I’d shove them on the floor, prod them with my doctors kit and give them “Medicine” (Mini m&ms mainly). My health wouldn’t allow me to go in to the health profession, but knowing im making some sort of a difference to some of the people that read my blog, well it makes all the pouring my heart and soul in to a post worth it. I hope I’m making you proud.
I’m talking about you in my conference soon. I’m going to tell them about the time I poured my pee pot in to your handbag. I’m going to tell them how I watch the video of you and auntie terry singing when I’m in bed crying in pain and in frustration of being in the situation I am in ,because that video cheers me up every single time. It was before I came in to the world, but I feel like everytime i watch it, you’re singing directly to me.
I miss you. And it took years for me to realise its ok to miss you.
I don’t want this letter to be all about you growing your wings.
Because its not all I think about.
I focus mainly on our memories. I focus on the fact that you loved me. SO MUCH. And I love you even to this day.
Holding your hand, going to the shop, getting Grandads paper from Alfred, talking to john the sockman, playing on the balcony with you watching me. People watching from your lap in the living room, waiting for auntie carole to turn up.
I still remember your voice. Your laugh. I still remember you singing to me. I still remember how warm your hugs felt. I still remember how you smelt ( that sounds like an insult but I promise you its not).
I wish vlogging had been a thing that everyone had done back then, as it wouldve been hilarious to catch me tipping my piss pot in your bag. Or filming the reactions to my chef surprise.
I wish the day grandad played with my toy kitchen with me on the sunday you looked after me had been filmed. I can still hear you laughing at the two of us even now. And when i said “mummy doesnt let me play with real food” and him saying ” well mummy isnt here and we wont be telling her”. That was a rarity, it being just the three of us- and grandad being fun and playful was a side not everyone got to see. im honoured that i got to have that relationship with him.
Zo and I were talking not that long ago about why you and grandad called eachother mole.
I wonder if I’m right in thinking its an amalgamation of the two surnames. if it was because of that that is bloody awesome. Its like you made your own (what “modern” People refer to as) ship name before it was cool. Thats you though, made things cool before it was cool to do it.
Bet you laughed at me and zo doing those video things. and when she put the filter on me and I looked like bill odie.
Making memories with you was the most important thing. Time was and is the best gift anyone could ever receive.
So now I want to thank you.
I want to thank you for being the best nan I couldve ever had wished for. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the 7 years of making memories, because those memories are so strong and important to me that I will never let them fade from my mind.
How many people can say their Nan wore a Dipsy Mask for their 1 st birthday because they were obsessed with the teletubies?!
You never made me feel anything but loved and safe.
I have so many questions to ask you. So many things that remain unanswered. There are so many things that have happened and sometimes I just feel like I need to hear what you think about it.
I wish I could have a day with you again. It would be even better if the day I could have with you would be my 21st, as time draws nearer it makes me wish you were here to celebrate with me and all of our family. It makes my heart hurt sometimes that you never even saw me reach 8 let alone 18 or 21. If you were still here I think you’d constantly be telling me off for swearing too much. I would say blame Nat or Jackyboy for being bad influences, but I cant blame them anymore – im just a pottymouth aren’t I.
I still laugh at the fact for those 7 years, I referred to you as my nanny witchy. I don’t know if I’ll have kids myself, but if I do mum and I have already said she’ll be known as Nanny Dragon. I know you’d find that entertaining too. I wonder if theyll shout BYE BYE NANNY DRAGON LOVE YOU from the street like i used to (only I screamed nanny witchy, not dragon).
I wish we had more than 7 years together, but im grateful we HAD those 7 years.
I often wonder what you would think about Jackyboy and Titch. You’d probably love them. They’re good eggs. When I’m old and grey, I know we will still be bestfriends. And I just know itll be like it was with you and Mrs G. I hope you found her again. Gladys was hilarious, I loved her, but then I think she mightve loved me seeing as I was the only one that called her Gladys 😉 Everyone else called her Mrs G/Mrs Graham, even you!
I hope you’ve met Nat. You’d love her too.
I hope you’re proud of me where ever you are.
One of the biggest things I think about with regards to my illness and you, is what would you say about it. I think it would terrify you. I know you’d be there at every london appointment I have. You’d have been there when I needed you to be. I feel like you still are with me when I need you to be. Sometimes I can hear you in my mind. I don’t quite know how you would’ve reacted to this whole me moving out thing though. Ha!
Whatever the future brings, I’m not scared. Because I know I have you in my heart and in my mind and behind me, Even if you’re not on earth anymore. And everything really will be ok.
I’m determined to extend olive branches, and mend bridges in my life. It may not work out but at least I will have tried. I’m just going to focus on making the most of every single moment. Up to them if they want to be involved in making memories or not. Their loss if they don’t. I’ll be making memories with you still in my brain.
My 21st, I’ll have a picture of you and grandad there. I know you’ll be with us though, dancing with us. I mean, look at this picture. You’re a queen. A dancing queen (ooo see what I did there!).
It took me years , but I’ve finally realised that I will never “get over” losing you. But it has got better. Its still sad sometimes. But then I look at the pitures of you. And I remember. You, my nan, were BADASS, and you weren’t a sad person, at least you werent around me, and I’m taking a piece of you and your bad assness with me going forward in life. I have days where I’m sad about my life, and about my situation, about my health and about the people i’ve lost. BUT generally im happy nanny. I’m happy because I’m still here. I’m still alive. Life is a gift. A gift I’m determined to make the most of. Theres a song called they live in you from the lion king musical, and it makes me think of you. You do live in us, in all of your family, all of the people who love you. And Nan I promise you for as long as I live you will be remembered and you will live in me.
I love you. Always.