This post has been a serious challenge to write and if you're reading this, then I managed to click publish. It wasn't easy by any means, but this particular topic isn't something anyone can easily open up about.
Back in July, towards the end of my first week in my new job, I arrived home to devastating news. Whenever you lose someone, it's difficult, but when you're old enough to actually understand it, then it's a whole other matter.
Today would've been my Grandad's 86th Birthday and it's heartbreaking to know he's not here.
My Grandad was the most caring, entertaining and inspiring man. He was a great Dad, Grandad and friend to many and very fond of taking photos. Something I'm really happy to have continued to do in his memory. He was lucky to have traveled to so many amazing places and had so many stories to share. I'm grateful to have known such an amazing person and to have shared memories I'll never forget.
Only two months after he passed away, I turned 22 and I didn't even want to celebrate my birthday knowing I wouldn't have a card from him, or know that he was just a short walk away. I felt like I wasn't allowed to be happy, to enjoy my birthday. I thought it was selfish for me to be happy and I felt guilty for any moments where I would smile and distract myself from it all.
I found Christmas and New Year difficult for similar reasons. For years, I would receive an album filled with photos from his travels around the world and anecdotes jotted beside, with some older family photos thrown in every now and then. It was funny seeing the hairstyles my parents used to have, the clothes we used to wear and how my sister and I have grown up. Then there were the medals and the memorabilia from his service and at the time, none of it meant that much. I always kept the albums and the medals like I would keep everything and only now do I find myself searching for the albums, looking for those little gifts and wanting to remember the stories that went with them. Looking through them is both the best and most difficult thing to do.
Grief is the most horrific, confusing emotion and we all react differently to it. They say it gets better with time and maybe it does, but I still find it hard to think about him without getting upset. It's okay to feel sad. It's okay to feel angry and confused. It's okay to feel nothing and to refuse to accept the truth.
Just that morning, I found out he'd returned home from hospital the previous evening and everything had seemed okay. The good news really lifted my spirits and I'd started to think of when I would see him next and what we'd talk about. Hours later, any happiness came crashing down and of course I blamed the hospital, I blamed everything I could and I blamed myself for not seeing him as often as I could've (and really should've).
I blamed myself for a long time and felt guilty for being a bad granddaughter. I couldn't accept it and it's taken a hell of a lot to even sit down and write this. I've deleted as much as I've written, I must have gone through half a box of tissues and yet I still keep going. I wanted to write this, as difficult as it's been, in the hope it'll help someone else and keep you going. You're stronger than you think, I am too, we all are and it's okay to feel sad. It's not a weakness or something to be embarrassed about.
We all lose loved ones; whether we have time to prepare and say goodbye, or it comes as a total shock. No one will ever know the right things to say, no words can make it easier and sometimes you won't even want to have anyone around. Looking back through old photos can be absolutely heart wrenching, but one day you'll be able to look at something and smile, or hear a story and laugh about old times. Someone may have gone, but their love never leaves you. There's comfort in that love and I like to think that he's still with me in some way. Whether it's the way I see things, or the decisions I make. Ultimately, I owe a lot to my family for how I was raised, what I was taught and the experiences I've had.
I guess this post is for him really, as much as it is for me. I'm sorry you never got to see my graduation photos and I didn't spend as much time with you as I could have done, especially in the last few years, but I know you would be are proud, just like I'm proud to have had you in my life. I miss you Grandad, sweet dreams to both you and Grandma.