My family suffered the loss of a very special and wonderful person recently.
Although Nana’s passing wasn’t sudden, it has shaken us and has made me re-assess what is important in life.
Over the last couple of days, I’ve not been able to shake the sadness that falls over me when I think back to how little I saw my Nana over the last couple of years. I think it was a downhill slope when I went to university, I joined the bandwagon of ‘life’ and got caught up in all these new things. Before I knew it, I’d graduated.. and had seen my Nana only a handful of times since freshers, catching up on 6months worth of life each time.
My sister and I would spend a lot of time at our Grandparent’s when we were younger over the summer holidays, spending hours in the garden, picking daisies and making chains. I long to be running around there again. I desperately want to hold Grandad’s hand, walking with him through Wytham Woods waiting for Nana and Zoe to catch up. I want to help Nana spin the lettuce leaves in the fun piece of equipment that is a salad spinner! Take me back to playing Uno… lightheartedly telling Grandad he’s cheating when he kept winning.. and helping him finish off the box of chocolates. It’s only when you look back, that you realise that those days are just so special. How are you meant to know when you’re 4, 5, or 6, that those beautiful days will soon be a memory…
And it’s now that I’m looking back, that I’m realising I could have made more of an effort to see Nana over the last couple of years. I’d got better at writing to her and I loved receiving cards and letters from her, they meant and continue to mean so much to me. But seeing Nana always brought so much warmth to me. Spending a day with her would just wash away any worries, she was just so kind and really rather witty! Seeing her gave me perspective on life – that growing up isn’t scary and that it’s not all about material objects, it’s about filling it with friends and loved ones, keeping busy and not dwelling on the past.
I suppose my greatest fear is that Nana didn’t know how much I appreciated and loved her. She was this rock which I just naively assumed would always be there.. obviously I know the ins and outs of dying, but seriously.. I just thought she’d always be there. That there would be a ‘tomorrow’ for visiting her and for saying ‘thank you’, ‘I love you’…
The day after she died, I rampaged through all my boxes of collected stuff which I can’t throw away.. it amounts to three boxes filled to the brim with birthday cards, ticket stubs, special photos, random things that mean a lot. I found Nana’s cards… and this time, I read them from top to toe.. this time not distracted by presents or another card. This time, taking them in, fully appreciating the words and sentiment. I chuckled at little things… Nana writing ‘p.s. Grandad is enjoying his chocolates without assistance!‘, crying when she’d told me Grandad would have been proud of me with my exam grades… crying at how much I miss her.
After a couple of hours sifting through the boxes, a few tissues later and conversations with Peter, I’ve realised that of course she understood, because she lived too. She too had a family of her own and learnt to juggle the commitments of family with friends, work and hobbies. She knew what it was like and she was just the kindest person on earth. Watching my Parents with my little nephew, it’s obvious that a Grandparent’s love for their grandchild is completely unconditional, all they want for them is the best and no matter what they do, they love them.
It’s going to take time for me to realise that with the benefit and curse of hindsight, I could have seen Nana more. But in reality, life has a habit of continuing without letting up. Nana wouldn’t want us to be feeling sad, she’d want us to be thinking about the wonderful times we had together and to live our lives to the full.
I will make a concerted effort to see friends and family more but also to follow my dreams.