I have been wanting to write a new post for so long, it was almost as though I had forgotten how to write, that urge in me disappeared over the second lockdown and by the time I got to the third lockdown, my energy to come up with new posts had diminished completely.
Life takes over.
So much has happened in my life over the last few months, I could write a book on the twists and turns, happy moments, sad moments, moments that are truly baffling. I have found a new love for painting, for expressing my feelings through brush strokes, and I have also found a new sense of appreciation within my family.
So why have I reopened my laptop and started typing out a post after what feels like an eternity?
The pure innocence of a child that has opened my eyes and heart.
Last week my Granny sadly passed away. It was sudden, it was quick. From calling my mum to have a quick catch up, what started as me needing her comfort, turned to me comforting her, comforting my dad who had just been told he’d lost his mum.
Grief is a strange thing. It’s different for everyone, but for many, like I, you focus on your regrets, you look at hindsight. I should have visited at Christmas, as I do every year. I should have put that effort in to call more, to be the best granddaughter I could have been.
It is only when you realise it’s too late that it hits you what you could have done to improve someone else’s life. To give them the happiest memories possible.
I was hurt, I am hurting. To see my dad cry is one of the most difficult things, especially in a time where I cannot drive to see him, to hold him and remind him of the happy memories we all share.
But one thing did change that mindset I initially had. That heartache and sorrow you undoubtably feel when someone you love has gone.
Lily has been a part of my Gran’s life for as long as she can remember. At Christmas we would go as a family to see her, I’d send her school photo updates, which took pride of place in her home, and she’d send Christmas gifts and smile when Lily was around.
I knew telling Lily would be hard. She is at an age where she now understands death, she understands the emotions we have and she feels them as much as we do.
Sitting her down, I tried to keep calm. And these were my words: “Today we had some sad news. My Gran who we usually visit at Christmas has died, I am sad but I wanted you to know why if you see me tearful or crying.”
Her response was adorable to say the least. She held me tight and gave me a cuddle. She said she knew how I felt, as she had felt that way when her cat had died (a child’s mind is so beautiful).
She asked what had happened and I was honest, but tried to be light-hearted (which proves difficult in these situations). I said: “Well, she was getting old. She had her Friday fish and chips with her carer, which is her favourite and then at 2pm she felt a bit poorly and died.”
And I will cherish Lily’s response forever.
She replied: “That’s lucky then. I’m glad she got to have her favourite food before she died, that’s so lucky.”
The innocence of a child is so incredibly powerful. That one sentence opened my eyes to a whole new response to the pain I was feeling.
My Gran had enjoyed her last few hours, whether she knew they were her last few hours or not. She had had her favourite meal and will have been happy to have had it. She was lucky.
And many will ask me why Lily was so close to one of my family members, I get asked that a lot, people understand her being closed to my parents, but to my grandparents also? It’s choice.
I chose to open my family up to her, and they love her, and she loves them back.
I completely understand some people’s choices but for me, and my family situation, introducing Lily to them was the most precious thing – especially for my Gran, who was able to have that great-granddaughter before she passed, and enjoy seeing the mother figure I have become.
What I learn from this is appreciate your family, even when times are tough, even when your step children answer back or ignore your request for them to tidy their room.
Families are special and you don’t know what will happen tomorrow.
Cherish the moments that will last a lifetime as memories.
Granny Barker, 07.03.1931 – 19.02.2021