Death. This has been a year of it. Between people that I know and people that I don’t and the deaths of relationships, it’s just too hard to take sometimes. Today (4th October 2012) is the fourteenth anniversary of my gran’s death.
I visited her grave today with my mum and laid flowers. We couldn’t stay long because my brother had taken ill at school, but we did lay some flowers and say hello. It’s funny, isn’t it? We still talk to the people, even though they’ve passed over.
Sometimes I feel her with me. It’s a strange, scary, comforting feeling. Sometimes I just want her with me and to talk to her. Fourteen years. It feels like a long time ago, yet not that long ago at the same time.
My grandpa is also dead and I feel him with me, too. It’s always accompanied by a smell of Old Spice, because that was his fragrance. A little while ago, when I was depressed and drinking a lot, I felt his presence. I didn’t realise it at the time, but he was there to tell me to stop. Maybe on some subconscious level, or even unconscious level, I did realise, which made me come to my senses. There’s no good at the bottom of a bottle.
I learned so much from my gran, it was her and my mum that gave me my love for the English language. We would go over to her house on a Saturday and I’d spend a little time playing outside and then be back after I’d had my fun. Most afternoons, she’d be completing a crossword - The Guardian one (or was it The Herald? Whichever, it was rock hard!). She always had us help, even though she didn’t need it. By we, I mean myself and my mum, my dad was always sleeping. We played Scrabble and she was always a genius at it - she knew words that I’d never even heard of and of course, she taught me them.
Lunch was always something homemade. Casseroles, soups, all that lovely homely, warming, comforting stuff. It’s a universal fact that no matter how good your mummy is at cooking, your gran can still make a damned good pot of soup or whatnot. My favourite soup was mushroom and I’ve yet to taste a mushroom soup as good as it.
My grandpa was an artist. He drew all sorts of stuff. I’ve always liked cats and he made me a little cardboard cutout of a cat. I used to use it as a mask and run around mewing, not much has changed, except now I wear cat ears because the cut out is getting a little too worn and I don't want it falling apart. It's very precious to me. He never liked his drawings of roses, he said they looked like cabbages, but I couldn’t see anything wrong with them. He loved his roses in the garden and they always looked immaculate and smelled oh, so good. Even though I was only four when he died, I remember him quite well. He was a warm man and a perfectionist. In his job, he had to be - he was a colourist and designer for a big carpet firm, known the world over.
I think I must have inherited my love of electronics from him. He made several amplifiers and all sorts of electronic stuff. He was, simply, great. If he was still alive, I’m sure we would have got on famously.
Earlier in the year, a friend of mine died. We didn’t speak much, but we saw each other on Facebook all the time and he was the kind of person, that no matter how long you didn’t see him for, you could always immediately reconnect. He was also the type of person that didn't need to talk - he could tell you what he was thinking with a mere expression. He was a busy man, too. He did a lot of work with children and was a passionate musician. Part of his work with children was teaching them to play instruments and spreading the love for music. Outside of music, he was also very passionate. I had been thinking about dragging him out for a night out with two of my other friends. We all met in college and instantly hit it off. The four of us always had shenanigans together and just really lived in the moment. At that time, none of us really had any plans for life, that I know of anyway. I was quite lost, spiritually, that I know.
There was this one time we were all really hungry at lunchtime, but had very little money, so we all went to the bank to see what we had individually and pooled it together. We literally only had about five pounds between us, but we managed to get some food together. Then, on the way back to college, we saw some helium balloons. We were going to steal them, but the oldest and boldest of the four of us, decided to go into the shop and ask for them. So there we were with our helium balloons, happy as kids. We decided to go to “the galleries” as we called them; the full title of the place is Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, so it's easier to say the galleries or GOMA. It's where all the "goths" and "moshers" hung around. They get a bad name, but having hung around with a few of them, they're good people. High jinks always ensued when the four of us went to the galleries. We took hits of helium and talked funny. Tears of laughter rolled down our faces and we just had a good time and a couple of joints, too (naughty!). It was time to go back to college, so we kept some helium in our balloons. When we got the the floor where the class was situated, the older one breathed in some helium. The rest of us could hardly move for laughing, we were, quite literally, rolling along the walls. So, now it’s time to go into the class and we recollected ourselves, each took an inhale of helium and said hello to everyone.
The faces on those poor, unsuspecting people were priceless. And then the tutor, the hard nosed one, who took no messing, saw us and shot us a look that just said “you’re all in trouble”. We didn’t care, we were having fun. It’s a shame, we’ll never have that type of shenanigans again.
But with death also comes rebirth.
It’s autumn now and it’s the biggest symbol of death and rebirth. The plants and trees are all turning brown, orange, red and a plethora of other beautiful colours and getting ready to slumber for the winter. With spring will come the rebirth and all the green will come back and with it comes hope.
I may not have my gran, grandpa or friend, but I’ve got the memories of them. Yes, they make me feel sad for the fact that I’ll never make new ones, but also happy and grateful for the time that I had with them all.
Death is such a complex thing to try and cope with. You can never really cope with it fully, but you can’t let it rule you, either. That’s not what the departed would want. Most of them would, if they were still alive, tell you to get your head out of your arse and be thankful for what you’ve got.
I am thankful, I’m embarking upon a new chapter of my life - yet more death, but this time it’s good death: it’s the death of an old, self-destructive, self-loathing routine and the beginning of a new, hopefully, brighter one. I’ve met some wonderful friends, both online and off, in the past few months and I’m grateful for all of them, without some of them, I’d never have made it through those tough few months. Well, I would have, but it might have been more difficult. Yes, my family is always there for me, but there are some things that you can only tell friends. I can tell my family anything, but in some cases, they are just too close and it takes a bit of distance to give guidance and friends tend to be just the right distance that they can give the perfect guidance, no matter how close you are to them.
In the end, even though this has been a crappy, emotional, hard year for me so far, I’m grateful for what I’ve got. My friends and my family are all precious to me and I love them all. Here’s hoping that, in the dying months of this year, some happiness will come for me, my friends and family.