A year later...

Today it has been a year since my Grandad died.

But this is a post of two halves. This first section, I wrote back in December. A year after I last saw my Grandad in person.

It was the 24th of December. Christmas Eve - one of my most favourite days of the year - possibly even more so than Christmas day. Every year, we would go visit my family at each of their houses and we would always finish at my grandparents where they would have nuts, chocolates, my Nanna's yummy sausage meat pie, tea and hugs waiting for us (and of course presents that my parents sneakily escorted to the car which we pretended not to excitedly see). I loved that tradition and I especially loved that last stop and getting to see my Grandad's happy face. He had the best happy smile. 

Even now we still see our family and in 2016, we visited my Grandad in hospital after seeing everyone else and it was wonderful - even in the hospital. Looking back through my diary, I knew he was so sick then - and really we were lucky he managed that Christmas and Winter at all. I'm so lucky I have the memory of telling him about the house we'd just put the offer on, of showing him the photos of it, of hearing how excited he was about my nephew existing. I remember he couldn't get his headphones to work on the radio things they have in hospitals, so I helped him put them on and I was so close to his face, a face I loved so much... I just wanted to make everything better for him, but all I could do was sort out his radio. We were both happy I could do that but its a bittersweet memory.

I'm sure that visit wore him out - he always put on the best show for us.  Unlike everyone else in my family who saw him regularly, I don't think I ever really saw him at his worst, he never let me see it - and I love him even more from that - we both needed it I think, that illusion of everything being ok. And although ultimately it might have made it harder for me when he did eventually die - I don't think either of us could have handled a goodbye in any way. I think that is why the universe had it so I wasn't there when he died - I wouldn't have been able to let him go and he probably would have tried harder to stay.

I often feel guilty that I wouldn't have been able to let him go - that I still feel like I cant let him go now but maybe it would have been different if I was actually there? I'll never know and I'm glad, its not a test I would have been wiling to take part in - I don't feel like I'm doing particularly well in the test that is grief as it is.

Today is the 1st of February and its been a full year since my Grandad died. And a year and 39 days since I last saw him.

In many ways I think the year mark of me last seeing him was harder for me than today is going to be for my family. And now I feel guilt that I wasn't there for them on such a terrible day. 

There is a lot of guilt in grief I've found - guilt for not seeing your loved one more, guilt for not telling them you loved them more, guilt for continuing to live when they aren't anymore. Guilt that time just keeps on passing - without them - and that they can't enjoy in the things that you're enjoying. We bought the house I mentioned before (after 6 long months haha) and also a car in the same year - in some ways, 2017 might finally be the year I grew up - not only because I finally made adult purchases, but also because the childish part of me that so desperately needed my Grandad in so many ways, that part died a little along with my Grandad. 

I never could have anticipated how big that part of me was until it was gone - I'm not only mourning my Grandad but the relationship we had together - a relationship that now only continues in my own head. I'm mourning the parts of me - and our family - that left when he did. His eternal optimism, his brightness in room, his laughter. Those things come harder to us all now, because we all share that awareness of what we're truly missing and how it really feels to miss something so integral to your being.

A year is an odd amount of time really, its a long time but it goes in the blink of an eye - especially as you age - and you almost think that things will ease by then, you've got through that first year - you've done it. But grief to me feels more like a beginning rather than an ending now - the beginning of a new me and the beginning of a new existence, one that needs love and attention like a newborn in the those first months - and then nurturing and tending to further as it grows older and you go through all the different stages and emotions together. 

In losing one relationship I've started a new relationship with myself - one governed by the idea of how would my Grandad feel if he saw me treating myself so poorly.  2017 was the year I finally listened to my body and I started trying to take care of it - I cut out dairy, wheat and 90% of my meat consumption. I started walking every day to the train station when we moved house and now walking is so important to my soul's happiness. I still have a long way to go but in losing something, I also gained something else - they're not the same of course.

Have you ever seen Steven Universe? In one of the episodes Rose Quartz leaves a video to Steven saying that the half of him that is her is the part of him that is his own self love. I cried. Because that's kind of how I feel now my Grandad has gone - that the part of him that is also me, is the part of me trying so hard to love myself now - in spite of grief, depression, anxiety and loss. In spite of the pain, fear and difficulties that every day life presents.

Its been a really hard and long year and I honestly feel as sad and heartbroken now as I did 365 days ago when I sat on the floor, crying, looking at old photos of my Grandad in our bedroom with Thomas waiting for the call to tell me that he had slipped away. But rather than just despair, I feel the tiniest bit of hope - the hope that he can continue to live through me if I try my best and also the hope that I can continue on for even longer somehow without him here to support me.

Grief and depression both teach you that time always passes - no matter how much you want it to stand still or that part of you has sat down and can't move forward - it shows you that you can get through the bad, bad, bad days somehow and come out the other side. Not unchanged and definitely not unscathed - but you come out - and you resolve to keep doing it - day after day. 


A few months ago we saw Mount Eerie sing about the death of his wife. I cried. A lot. But I also empathised and that feeling of understanding and sharing - encouraged my hope - as did his words. I didn't feel so alone. So to finish this post I'm going to share some of his lyrics.

"Death is real
Someone's there and then they're not
And it's not for singing about
It's not for making into art
When real death enters the house, all poetry is dumb
When I walk into the room where you were
And look into the emptiness instead
All fails

My knees fail
My brain fails
Words fail

It's dumb
And I don't want to learn anything from this
I love you"

Real Death by Mount Eerie




Do you have a song that makes you cry as soon as you hear it? I have a few.

One is our first dance song. Thomas told me what it was years ago, way before we got married. Don't you love that he picked it too? He loves music and gosh I love him. Anything by George Michael or Prince totally gets me too right now as well.

But today's song was a song that makes me happy, not sad. I was listening to it a second ago but now I've swapped to Glenn Miller Moonlight Serenade which reminds me of my Grandad and today I can say that makes me happy too.

Maybe not tomorrow but right now, I'm embracing that I can listen to it. Its beautiful. My Grandad had good taste.

Today's song was Penguin Cafe Orchestra... And as I'm sat at work, my eyes prickle. Tears fall. I used to feel a bit ridiculous when that happened. But after the last 6 months and all the reactive tears, I think people probably just think i have allergies from all the occasional sniffles. Luckily I don't think they realise the sniffles are usually accompanied by silent tears. At least I really hope they don't realise.

Anyway Perpetuum Mobile (by Penguin Cafe Orchestra) comes on the radio. And it reminds me of how happiness feels. We listened to it planning our wedding, it takes me to the beach with sand between my toes, its the sound of holding Thomas's hand and seeing my brand new nephews little face and the way his mouth moves when hes sleeping (is this a baby thing? Either way its adorbs). It reminds me of how I imagine it feels to finally own your own puppy ha. The way it dances in my ears makes me want to dance with my whole body. Its just amazing to listen to and to respond to.

One of the most bizarre lessons Ive learnt so far in my 8 months of having the word happy for my year, especially whilst 6 of those months have been grieving, is that you can be so very happy whilst being so very sad.

For the longest time I was so sad and caught up in negativity that I thought emotions were a scale from happy to sad. Excited to scared. 1 to 10. Perhaps thats because its how we explain our emotions to each other in the most basic way. How happy are you from 1 to 10 right now? Ten being the best score of course.

The older I get the more I realise again and again that its not how I feel about my thoughts thats the problem, but how I think about my feelings. Did I ever post the post I wrote about that? I feel like perhaps not... that fact alone also reminds me that perhaps I won't find wisdom in my old age but in my past, in the things I've already written but never been brave enough to share. In the connections I made then but never had the conviction or trust to believe in at the time. The universe has a way of reminding you the lessons you have to learn though lovely people... the universe can lead a horse to water, but obviously it can't always make it drink either... and its the universe!

Anyway, the point I actually came here to make - 500 words in ha - is that I'm ready to reconnect with you guys - I'm ready to take photos (I've actually got 5 films waiting to be scanned right now, and gosh its the best feeling knowing I took some photos after nearly 6 months of not... tears are falling again because I'm honestly so happy to be back in this place again, grief is a shocking experience, it really is....) and more importantly, I'm ready to give them to you. 

I've listened to two and a half podcasts by Yoga Girl today and in one she talked about vulnerability and giving and receiving (Eadaoin I hope you still read my blog love, you should check this podcast out for sure). Currently Rachel and I have opposite problems... she feels she gives to much - whilst I know that for the past 6 months I've effectively shut down and stopped giving - I just haven't had anything apart from sadness and sorrow to give. Do you remember how in 2015 my word was 'give'? Isn't it funny how the feeling I have the most today, right now... is to give. Give my words, give my experience, give it my all. And to give without worrying about receiving... just to want to give, because its been so long since I really could completely. Again... my wisdom is in my past, I'm sure of it.

Another wonderful lesson I've learnt about happiness this year, is that happiness is right now, considered just another standard - something else to aspire too... 'if you have this, you'll be happy. if you wear this, if you look like this, if you whatever, whenever... you'll be happy.' I must say that I read this idea on the amazing Imogen's Instagram page (its a disabled womans body positivity page, so perhaps don't click if you're at work... theres some skin on show), its not something I came up with - but once I read it, it totally clicked. Happiness is mostly a concept

Oh as I'm writing this, While my Guitar Gently Weeps sung by Regina Spektor just came on my Spotify... this song makes me cry too. Have you seen Kubo and the Two Strings? We watched it not too long after Grandad died and it broke me into pieces, again, its amazing and beautiful. And this song.. just sums it all up perfectly. If you've been blogging for a while, I'm sure that you'll be amused that after 8 years I finally like a Regina Spektor song too haha. 

If you've read this through, thank you - thank you for still connecting with me, after all these years and after a couple of months of not even being here. I'm not really sure if I've made the point that I meant to but its good to be here and its good to write again and I'm excited to share some new photos very soon. 

p.s. I've scheduled this so I don't not post it and I didn't spell check... cos rereading sometimes encourages that save button instead of publish, so please forgive any glaring errors!

An unexpected gift...

For a year where I picked the word 'happy' - I've been so very sad. My Grandad died last month. I'm heartbroken. I'm broken. Yet I feel more me than I've ever felt. Isn't that odd. It wasn't a surprise as such, he's been so sick for a while, his heart was failing him. It was very quick though, when it happened, and I guess I'm most upset because I wanted more time, more of him,  I definitely wanted to get to see him again, yet... here we are. 

He's gone. I'm broken. I'm going to have to rebuild myself... again. I'm really not ok, but I'm probably the most ok I've been for a while. 

I've been thinking about grief - like you do when one - you're a highly sensitive person - and two, you're an over thinker. And the truth is that, its real. Now I understand that is a bit silly of a statement 'of course its real Rhianne - duh' but hear me out.  By real I mean its coming from a very real part of me - a part thats born of love, a part thats true and raw, thats unaffected by the materials of the world - a part of me I'd forgotten existed in the last few years.

In feeling real sadness and heartache, I'm starting to feel more and more real emotions and I'm starting to see my depression for what it is - unreal. Nothing about my depression comes from me. None of it is born in love. None of it is from 'me'.

Grief flows freely from me.

Depression sucks me in and away.

Grief is sadness, unexpected laughter, heartache, devastation, sorrow, forgotten memories, leaking eyes.

Depression is despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, apathy, numbness, ruined nails, a sickness to the stomach.

Grief is carrying me through the days, the time has passed by me faster than I imagined - yet I seem to float through it, somehow getting by, my body reminding me to eat and my mind protecting itself from the usual stresses of the day in order to cope with what it needs to do.

Depression weighs me down, taunts me, provokes me, grinds at me, insults me, lies to me, drags me under, pulls me deeper.

Depression disconnected me, yet somehow, the love for my Grandad, expressed through grief, is reconnecting me - reminding my brain that it knows what to do in these situations (honestly, I'm so blown away with myself its a bit bizarre to witness), reminding my cells that they feel, they love and they can thrive in awful situations.

Now I'm definitely not saying this is easy, or that I'm floating through the days in a good way and I'm definitely not thriving (even if my cells are ok) - I'm not ok. I'm so incredibly sad, I'm at a complete loss of what to do with myself, I forget to eat, then I only eat biscuits and chocolate, I find myself with tears leaking from my eyes (yet I'm not crying?), my thoughts are all over the place, I nearly forgot to get off the train today, tiny things set me off - today it was a bag of potatoes on the floor, one of the potatoes was smashed.

Yet riding this rollercoaster of real... I'm somehow finding the strength to give my depression the finger - to hold my sorrow above my head and shout 'this is real, this is true... you have nothing on this pain, this pain is born of love, this pain is an expression a depth of feeling you couldn't even comprehend - yet alone try and pile on me.'

Depression is cold and heartless, yet today my grief is warm and full of heart - a broken heart yes, but a full one, of love as true and heavy as my sorrow.

And the unexpected gift is that in remembering that I can truly feel sadness how it should be felt - in a real way - I have hope that I can really remember how to feel truly happy too - to remember what happy means and not what it 'should be'. So maybe 'happy' isn't a completely ridiculous word, if in being so sad, I find a way to reconnect to my happy.