My Nan

This morning, for some reason, I’m thinking a lot about my paternal grandmother. She was everything to me. A wonderful, close loving Nan. The only person that I can honestly say has ever truly seen me, and offered me unconditional love. For many hours we sat chatting over tea in her kitchen. She really saw me. She listened.

I honestly considered telling her my hidden truths. Sharing with her my deepest secrets, if anyone could give me some light and make me feel less alone it would be her. And I genuinely believe she her love, as unconditional and pure as it was, would have protected me. Would have tried to heal me. But the words, they always caught. Our time, our relationship was so special. I couldn’t bare to taint it. It was a special bond. Sacred. I wanted to bask in its beauty. Relish my Nan’s love and adoration, not drain her nor form expectations and certainly not hurt her.

My one perfect person growing up. When she was diagnosed with cancer I was NZ, and my parents as usual decided to hold the truth to ‘protect’ me. Unfortunately they left it too late. So I flew back in time to see her in her very last moments of conciousness. She was ravished by the cancer. Tiny, fragile. I hardly recognised her. Intermittent moments of being lucid. I didn’t want her to leave me. I wanted her to wait until she could she me marry and have children. But that wasn’t meant to be. In one of her most lucid moments, I told her, I understood she had to go. That it was her time. That she should go and be in peace with my grandad. She looked into my eyes, smiled weakly, said she hoped so, that it would be nice, and then and drifted away. She never woke up again.

My heart broke into a thousand pieces.

Of course my family don’t do emotion. They do don’t do grief or tears or anything like that. It was stifling. Suffocating.

I next saw my nan at the funeral home in an open coffin. The grief rose like a painful bubble and I doubled over and screamed and cried. My father shoved his hand around my throat and mouth, and dragged me out of there. He made me feel guilty. He made me feel bad.

But I’d wanted to scream and cry. I’d wanted to grieve and let go of the hurt. To grieve for all the conversations over the kitchen table, all the giggles like best friends, the fact she would never see me have children, the fact she was the only person that told me she was proud of me, the only person that would love me fiercely and that I loved so deeply. As usual I was muted, aggressively.

At the funeral, I did a speech. It took everything I had not to break down. My fathers expectations kept me from being emotional. I felt so suffocated again. No one cried. My family don’t do that.

After the funeral, I had to leave the UK again. I couldn’t bear to be around all this hurt. All these stifled emotions. All these lies.

My darling Nan, god I miss you.


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