My darling gran

Let me just start by saying that for me, this years sucked so far! Big time. I wouldn't mind if I could scrap it off the calendar. I feel so silly when I think back to the beginning of the year, how sure I was that this year would be a good one for me. What an innocent Summer child I was back then O.o
Since I wrote my blog post about missing Murphy, our sweet kitty baby who wasn't meant to last out the year apparently, so much has happened.
When I was tentatively finding my feet a bit again at the end of April, Diego, our other kitty baby got sick. I felt like I was going mad. I'll spare you all the dramatic details, but suffice it to say I was not expecting a conflict with our vet and having to find a new vet to find out what was actually going on with our little furbaby. After weeks of stress and lots of money spent, it turned out that Diego had starting kidney failure. Thankfully it was still at a stage where, for now, it can be managed with special diet food. 
Unfortunately, that was just the start of a Summer full of stress, crises, drama and heartbreak to come. 

Because the worst thing to happen this year was still to come. The night we got back from our lovely Scotland vacation at the beginning of June (where we seriously thought that all the stress was behind us now, ha!), was the beginning of the biggest heartbreak of this year, and my whole life so far. Man, that sounds dramatic, doesn't it? It is how I feel, however.
While on the train home from the airport, I called my gran to let her know we'd landed safely, as she liked me to do. I knew right away something was wrong. She sounded very weird and was slurring her words. She'd had a very weird spell of illness before our vacation, and I'd been urging her to go to the doctor to find out what was wrong. Her being her, super stubborn, she'd waited a few weeks until she had a check up scheduled anyways. Turned out that her doctor suspected her of having had a stroke. She needed a scan. This was the start of a lot of hospital visits, screw ups and confusion, which I'll also spare you the details of. At first she was scheduled for a scan more than 3 weeks after her doctor's visit. After her doctor yelled at some people, she could go get her scan at the end of that week. When she got home from that, she was phoned up and told to immediately get back to the hospital and be checked in.
Over that weekend we got the news that, actually nope, not a stroke, she had 2 brain tumors. A few days later, it turned out that the 2 brain tumors were off shoots from very serious lung cancer, which had also spread to her liver, kidneys and lymph system. Just like that, we were having to face that my vibrant, lively gran had probably mere months to live. At first we were hoping for surgeries or chemo therapy, but this hope was quickly dashed.

In the meantime, we got 2 new kittens, because we felt it would be better for Diego to get some new feline company because he'd never been alone in his life. The kittens, however, arrived with a parasite in their little colons. Queue loads more vet visits, tests, constant cleaning of *everything*, stress and confusion. The worst thing was, I wasn't allowed to visit my gran for a week and a half, because the kittens were suspected of having a parasite that can be given to humans and with my gran being so vulnerable, the risk was too big.
In that week and a half, my gran took a turn for the worse. She had a very weird episode, probably heat stroke while stuck in traffic in a boiling car on the way to a hospital appointment (because damn the heat we had this Summer, gah!). After that, a big part of her conciousness and personality and will to live, vanished. I was heartbroken, and still am, for having missed what turned out to be her last days of her life of her being truly herself. We got the results of our kittens' tests back and it turned out to be a different parasite, so I could visit my gran again. But I am never getting those last lucid days of her life back again.

After this, when the doctors decided to not treat my gran anymore, it was just a matter of waiting for the end to come. It could be months, it could be weeks, or even days. She was determined to hold on because she didn't want to leave behind all her children and grandchildren and after her weird heatstroke and losing part of herself,  she didn't want to speak about the coming end anymore.

You know, I have always been convinced, after my dad's very sudden passing  of a huge heart attack when I was 18, that it's better to be prepared for the end of a loved one. To know it's coming, to be able to come to terms with it, to say goodbye. But I've found this just as heartbreaking. Because I didn't get to say goodbye, I didn't know how to come to terms with it. There were moments when I thought I had accepted what was coming, but I really didn't. Because of not knowing whether we were going to have to watch her suffer for months or whether any moment could be the last, and her not wanting to talk about the end, we were in limbo.
And then very suddenly, on the 17th of August, it was over. My mum had been taking care of my gran in my gran's home of over 30 years for all those weeks, and that morning she called me. Gran wasn't with us anymore. At first I felt relief, because I'd been scared that my sweet, strong gran would hold on for months and suffer horribly, losing more and more of herself, because she didn't want to leave us all alone. Thankfully, she had been spared this pain. But very quickly, the relief was gone and the pain came. Just like that, my strong, lively gran was gone. When just 3 months before she was still driving around, hosting a Mother's Day bbq and helping us with babysitting Diego when the dude and I both had to be away from home all day to go to work. It had taken exactly 3 months from her first sign of illness to her day of passing. She died in my mum's arms.

My gran was always so much more to me than just my gran. She was always my other mother. She was my third parent, but really, often my first parent, the one I leaned on the most. Since my birth I was with her as much as with my mum. When my mum struggled, my gran was there. When I struggled, my gran was there. When home couldn't be home anymore because it wasn't safe, I (with my sister) moved in with my gran. We would talk about absolutely anything and everything. She gave me my foundation in life. She was my safe haven, my anchor, my conscience, my biggest supporter, my best friend. I was her 5th child. There will never be a person in my life like my gran and my life will never be the same without her.


(with thanks to Emily from Fleuropean for some of these photos)

My gran was the most wonderful, strong, vivacious, open minded person I have ever met. She had a hard life but she was always so grateful for everything she had. She was the center, the heart, of the family. Everyone loved her. She was always there for everyone. And I know that sounds like a platitude, 'there for everyone'. But she really was. When her brother and his wife passed, she took care of his young teen kids. When her sister was ill for long periods of time, she took care of her young kids. When my sister and I couldn't stay safely at home, she took us in and we lived with her for years. When my mum and other siblings lost their home, she took them in. When I met my dude, he didn't have any grandparents anymore, so she became his gran, too.

Over the course of my life so far, I have struggled a lot with finding my way. My gran was always there for advice, for talking over my doubts and wishes, for support, for cheering me on. And no matter how unconventional my choices and my dreams were, she supported me through everything. All she wanted was for me to be happy. 
And she was so fun, so young and forward thinking for her generation. She was always sorry that she wasn't able to go to school after twelve years old. She wanted to study and see the world, but there was no money. Instead, she fell in love at a young age, had 6 children, two of whom died and she worked hard all her life. Only to get her heart broken and be one of the only ones in her generation to get divorced. Because she was strong, and knew her worth and always said she'd rather be alone than be unhappy with someone who didn't deserve her. She taught me to never settle for less than a good partner. 

She was passionate about gardening, cooking good food and she loved to sew and knit. I have so many cute things and clothes she made me, which I will cherish forever. She loved going on walks with her dog and she loved her house amongst the green meadows full of wild flowers and her gorgeous garden with the amazing view. We would talk about food, about gardening, about life, about my dreams, planning this year's Christmas dinner and walk the countryside with her dog and play cards and we'd never run out of things to chat about.


Ever since her passing, I feel like I don't really know who I am anymore. Some days I feel like I will never find my way again.  I can't turn to her for comfort or advice or rant about some stupid issue anymore. And while I, of course, thankfully, have other people in my life that love me and support me and who I can turn to for comfort or advice, it's just not the same as having my gran in my life. I keep being confronted with how much of my daily life leaned on having my gran around. On having her just a 5 minute drive away. On her quickly replacing the zipper in a pair of pants. On her always knowing exactly when which plant in my garden would need to be pruned. 

I know it's silly to believe your gran will be with you forever, but somehow, I did. She was a fairly young gran, I am 35 now, she would have been 80 this October. She still drove around in her car, still walked her dog, still worked in her garden. Not as fast as she used to, of course, but still. She was just a cool person. 
There are moments where I'm doing okay, and then something triggers a memory of her and I feel like I will drown and never find the surface anymore.

Everything that I do now, is a first without her. When we went to Scotland first week of October, just for a little break after all the stress and heartache, it was the first time ever that our cats only got visitors in the evening (my dude's lovely parents), because my gran would always take care of them in the morning. When we landed safely, I couldn't call her to let her know. When my dude's suitcase wasn't on the bagage belt and we had to call all over creation to find it, when his pin card was broken at a restaurant because the machine was dropped on the floor, I couldn't call her to vent and I couldn't hear her voice calmly telling me that yes, this sucks, but it will all turn out okay. When we were finally having a good time, surrounded by magnificent views and Autumn colours, I couldn't call her and hear her be excited about all the flowers still in bloom there and promise we'd show her pictures when we got home.

When my mum had her birthday a few weeks ago, my gran wasn't there. When Christmas comes along this year, my favourite time of year because of her, I don't know how I'll feel, because she won't be there. There won't be anymore chicken cocktails at Christmas anymore.  We will never play cards again. We will never eat  her apple pie again that she always baked because my dude liked it so much.  When Spring comes along she won't excitedly show me which flowers are starting to bloom in her garden. There will be no more Summer evenings spent chatting and laughing in her gorgeous garden, her little paradise, cursing the mosquitoes, anymore. I will never get to show her my finished books. I will never get to show her Scotland. I will never get to introduce her to my new kittens. I will never get to talk to her again. I have to find a new normal, a new rhythm in my life, without her. But I don't know how to do that yet.
I miss her so much, it's always there in the back of my throat. Sometimes I feel like if I let all the grief in right now, I'll drown beneath the wave. Because I think, at some level, I still can't believe she's gone. At the moment, I can't imagine ever not being constantly sad. 



Right to the point, it' s

Right to the point, it' s going to take some time, a long time even. The missing will never go away. The hurt will eventually. She was a remarkable lady. We will have to hang on to those good memories. You are not alone, don't forget.

Love, Henry

Thank you for that <3

Thank you for that <3

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