Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hold memory close at hand

I had all these things I was going to blog about - last weekend, random things from the week, upcoming plans - as soon as I finished my uni work, but to do any of that now just seems kind of callous somehow.

A few hours ago my maternal grandmother called to let us know that my granddad had passed away. His health had steadily been declining over the last few years but he hadn't been ill or anything right at the moment so it came rather unexpectedly. It happened at 6.10am (2.10pm our time) at home. From what I can gather he was just too weak and stopped breathing. My aunt and uncle (mum's younger sister and brother) were with my grandmother when it happened, so at least she wasn't alone.

My mother's family are an incredibly tight knit group. She is devastated, as you can well imagine. To me there's something extra horrific about something like this happening at home, I can't even fathom it. Your home is supposed to be your safe place, your sanctuary, and when something like this happens, I just don't know how you can ever feel the same about it.

I'm coping in my usual manner of suppression and cleaning. I'm trying to support mum (and dad, poor guy doesn't cope well with these things at all) as much as I can. They're going to SA tomorrow, and I'll go whenever someone can confirm the funeral details. At first I wasn't going to go cause there's so much to organise and dad thought it'd be easier if someone stayed behind. Mum would really like me there though so I suppose it's the right thing to do. I don't know. I don't know what to do, what the protocol is. Will I regret it one day if I don't go? Will my family judge me if I am the only one of the lot not to show? I'm not really a funeral person - which is probably a stupid thing to say as I'm fairly sure no one is. It's the people though - I don't think I can handle the people, all that emotion and the expectation of emotion. So I'll be going in and out as fast as I possibly can.

Of course it's also about organising work (I have a deadline on Friday) and uni - we start back this week and I have a presentation on Thursday that I doubt I'll be able to make now (I'm guessing the funeral will either be Thursday or Friday). It's much needs to be sorted out, I can't even imagine what it's like over there. But yes, I've booked their airline tickets and travel insurance, I've got accommodation sorted for them as I'm sure it'll be a little intense at grandma's house and dad will need a place to escape to - I'm just waiting for him to get back from work, he's getting a letter that allows them priority seats. One good thing about the airline industry at least.

Worst thing is that it would have been granddad's 80th birthday this December. They were organising a big party for him. I was encouraging mum to go and she was putting together this collection of old photos and home videos. I feel so helpless knowing how much she's hurting and knowing there's nothing I can do to make it better.

Soon I'll start to feel guilty for not having the appropriate emotional response. I can weep pathetically for two days over a fictional world until I rupture blood vessels under my eyes, but here I sit typing a blog and wondering what I'm going to do about these essays. What the fuck is wrong with me? But I guess someone has to keep it together.

I was always his favourite. We spent so much time together when I was little, and yet I didn't spend nearly enough time with him when we visited in February. He was different as he got older, I was different and there seemed to be a gap that I couldn't quite breach. Perhaps I didn't try enough. But I still cared, and I know he knows I cared. I wish now our last visit had been more amicable in general, but there was so much mum and I couldn't take, so much that broke our spirits. And now this. That's life I suppose, and as the saying goes, time makes fools of us all.

We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance.

- Marcel Proust

Music: Rattling keys and falling rain
Mood: Sad


  1. I only saw this now. I'm so very sorry. We need to talk. I'm online at home now so hopefully we will run into each other soon. Love you!

  2. I know this is a little late too - I messaged you on twitter but I doubt that counts.

    My thoughts have gone out (quietly, secretly) from London to you, and I've been thinking about how one of the most difficult things about funerals is not always that a person is gone (so many people can process that swiftly), but that there should be some proper response, some right way of dealing with the emotional fall-out. I think it's a very difficult thing to manage, and I think you even beginning to write about it is a very positive step, and suggests some part of you is very aware that there are processes that need to be gone through. I know I'm not expressing myself very well, but I just wanted to kinda say that you should be proud that you are taking the time to reflect, to think about your relationship with your grandfather and to be concerned over the right and wrong way to do things.

  3. Of course messaging on Twitter counts, I truly appreciated it as I truly appreciate this comment. As I said before, you're really very sweet and it means a lot knowing there are people who understand and who are willing to listen. Now I feel you deserve a virtual hug so HUG!