Have you ever had a 'big change' haircut? Like gone from really long to really short? And every time you go to wash it for the first little while, you reach back... but there's no hair there to wash. And you remember, 'Oh yeah, that's right. Short hair.' Even though you know your hair is short, you still have to re-train your brain, change your habits, until eventually you get used to your new hair, and it becomes a part of you. And you can wash your hair without that funny little reflex.
I think when someone dies it's a little like that.
It's been just over a year since my Grandma passed away. It's weird that I'm talking about it now (obviously it would have made more sense to write about it on the one year anniversary, but I didn't. And that's okay).
It's funny. I miss her.... but I don't. It's not like an everyday ache, it's just funny little reminders that spring up on you when you least expect it. It's not like I'm weeping over her or anything. She was old, she was sick, and she loved Jesus. I would not bring her back, even if it was possible. But it's a bit like the hair thing nonetheless.
We were quite close. Especially in the last few years. Shane and I bought the house next to hers and I used to see her often. What annoys me though, is that I lived beside her for about two years and didn't see enough of her. I was busy with work and my life and I saw her a fair bit, but not as much as I could have. But in that last year, I spent a lot of time next door.
I was on maternity leave, and she was gradually getting worse. Plus my Mum was there a lot, she even lived with Grandma towards the end. I was there even more often after I had just had Georgie, because it was just so handy to go next door for help and company.
But I am still angry at myself that I didn't see her as much as I could have, especially when she was healthy, and whole and happy. Busy, busy, busy, doing nothing of importance.
It's been a funny year, without Grandma. She has always been a pretty big part of my life. Not huge, but at the same time just a constant comfortable presence. Growing up, we lived down the road from her (we really must like this street, huh?) and I couldn't tell you how many times I trekked up the road to Grandma's house as a girl. Hers was a house for sleepovers, playing madly with cousins, big lunches, and above all, Sunday afternoon tea.
Sunday afternoon tea was the biggest constant. Every week without fail, all the uncles, aunts and cousins that lived in town would gather around the kitchen table for scones and pikelets and cake and tea and talk and just be. We still get together. But it's not the same anymore.Weekends are too busy, people are drifting away, changing. There's less in common now. We're having families of our own. And there's no Grandma. Short hair.
It was odd watching her house transform too. All of her things being split up and thrown away. The house being empty. Then no longer hers. I think when the new people next door ripped up and redid the garden not long ago, that was a big change. Especially because she loved her garden. It had to happen. It's their house, their yard. Life is change. But I look over the fence, and sometimes the reminder just kind of slaps me in the face. No Grandma. Short hair.
Then there's the little, tiny things that have all stopped being habits. Checking the lights next door when I go to bed. Making sure the bin is out on a Tuesday morning when I put mine out. In the beginning she used to put ours out often when we forgot.... but it changed over time, until eventually it became our job to do both. Little chats over the fence. Trekking next door to borrow her lawn mower. We never even bought one, hers just used to do both yards. We borrowed it, and in return Shane tried to mow her lawn when he could. Now it just does the one yard. Ringing up when either of us ran out of something, and exchanging sugar, flour, milk, tomato sauce, over the fence. Our little dog Chloe no longer runs next door, treating that yard as her own. Her phone number is no longer in my phone book. I didn't remember her birthday this year. No Grandma. Short hair.
It doesn't hurt. But at the same time, it just feels a little bit odd. So many reminders.
She seemed to enjoy her life. She had pain, but at the same time, she lived well. And she died well. Despite having cancer on and off for so many years, she never suffered too badly. She managed to go from home, to hospital, to heaven, and it was quite quick. Not too much lingering in pain like some. Hers was the way to go. She was herself too, right to the very end. And she got to see Georgie. She enjoyed baby Georgie for a couple of months. She was so tickled when we named Georgie after her. Georgina Shirley.
Life marches on. In a way it's nice that her yard is so different now. It's not hers anymore. But she will never hold this next baby. That hurts a little. She doesn't get to enjoy Georgie now. That hurts too. But mostly it's fine. And now it's all less habit. The loss has become a part of my history, part of me. I don't wash my hair with that funny little reflex anymore.
Linking up with Jess for I blog on Tuesdays.