I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘her’ since last week: since the time I got the news that the tumour that had been eating away at her for longer than they predicted, finally got to her and she died.
What was I to do? Was I entitled to grieve?
She isn’t someone I’ve seen often since her diagnosis for one reason or another, but the main reason being that our lives didn’t pass in the easy day to day way that they once did. Our extended family lives and distance getting in the way.
But she was a part of my life, a really really significant part. She was someone I saw weekly as a child and a teenager, and at times over the years I probably saw her daily. She was one of my parents best friends, so she became one of mine. She was part of my parents support network, so she was part of mine. She was one of the few landline numbers I knew off by heart (and in fact still do). The number memorised in case of an emergency, yes, but also memorised because I rang it so much. What good it would have done me in an emergency I’m still not sure as the phone line was always permanently engaged, she sure knew how to chat!
Over the years there were days out and play dates and weekends of fun. There was lift sharing and dog walks, Christmas days, multiple birthdays and more. Then came weddings and children and more birthday celebrations. It all added to the fun.
Her house wasn’t our own, but it was just round the corner and never less welcoming. The door was always open, the kettle always on. Take a seat if you could find one amongst the other children, friends and dogs. Just join in and add to the noise; the laughter that was always in the air.
At times over the last 43 years we saw less of each other, but her presence remained a significant part of my parents life and so mine.
And then she died and I don’t really know how I’m supposed to grieve. What am I supposed to feel. Is there a rule book to follow?
She wasn’t family no, not an aunt or a cousin, but at times she was more than that. She was certainly no less important.
Her children are life long friends and always will be. At times we’ve all been closer than at others times, but that’s the thing about those sort of friends isn’t it. They are always there. Friendships that transcend the day to day; the years.
She will be missed by all that knew her. Her laugh, her smile, her kind and caring way. I am lucky to have known her.
Night night, sleep tight.
Phew, what beautifully written words but also a hard read. She was one special lady. XX
Karen, I read this on the day you wrote it and again this morning whilst finishing the statutory first Americano of the day. What you wrote is poignant, heartfelt and full of love. Grief and loss takes many forms, it doesn’t have or indeed need to be close family to feel that loss or grief there is no law or rules of entitlement in death. I lost a brother whose loss is still unbearable at times. I’ve also lost friends and acquaintances to tragic accidents, illness and sadly suicide. I think as we get older, and certainly with children time and life becomes ever more precious. So it is right to grieve, feel sadness and feel the warmth of friendships shared and those closer to the loss are comforted knowing that their loved one was loved by many. Life is all about laughing, crying and love.
Thank you David, for taking the time to comment and to care too. It feels so alien and so strange not to be there today and hugging those I hold dear.
Janet’s dad passed away in April… no funeral, no wake and no ability to hug… what we did do on the day of his cremation was have a virtual wake on Zoom. We put together an in memoriam video that preceded our recounting stories and memories of Harry. It was deeply personal and my mother-in-law thought it was wonderful. As good as it was I think because she was unable to visit him in his final hours and no funeral she has no absolute closure. These are sad and strange times.