August 26, 2015

LEAVING YOU

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“When I leave your postcode and your commuting station,
When I leave undone the things that we planned to do,
You may feel you have been left by association,
But there is leaving and there is leaving you.

When I leave your town and the club that you belong to,
When I leave without much warning or much regret,
Remember, there’s doing wrong and there’s doing wrong to
You, which I’ll never do and I haven’t yet,

And when I have gone, remember that in weighing
Everything up, from love to a cheaper rent,
You were all the reasons I thought of staying
And you were none of the reasons why I went”

– Sophie Hannah

I’ve never had to go through the mental anguish of losing someone. Yes, there have been times that I thought that my life was over after losing my favourite watch or sensed armageddon was nigh having broken the heel of my most coveted Sophia Webster shoes. Truth is, when you experience real loss, your world crumbles before your eyes. Your heart breaks a million times. Sleep eludes you, or, much so in my case, taunts you with memories of your loved one. Your appetite ceases to exist and you begin to question life – Why is it so unfair? Why does bad things happen to good people?

Over a year ago I lost my Nan to Alzheimers’. She didn’t pass away, but I was forced to exit her life for complicated and personal reasons I won’t divulge here. My nan was my main mother figure and we had a bond that no one will ever understand. She was my best friend. My ride or die. She nurtured me. Loved me unconditionally. Never did she forsake me. My Nan and I had secrets that no one else knew – and still don’t. She told me everything and trusted me with her life. I was fiercely protective of her and made a lot of personal sacrifices to ensure that she was properly looked after and not taken advantage of as the dementia set in. It was a Goliath battle that, in hindsight, I could never win. I had trusted the wrong people and sought advice and support from those who I mistakenly thought were there to help. Protecting vulnerable people who are not capable of making their own choices is more difficult than you think. There are laws, red tape and other political obstacles that prevent the will of the affected being executed. If my nan was in sound mind, a lot of things would be different. The people who are in her life now would not have been able to enter, let alone stay…

It’s hard to let go of her. I miss her every day. I miss seeking her counsel, miss hearing her sing in the early morning as she washed dishes and cooked in the kitchen. I miss the her laugh, and the way her gold tooth would show when she was extremely tickled. I miss the girly time we used to enjoy such as painting nails, doing each others hair and our heightened debates whilst watching Deal or no Deal and her endless schedule of soaps. This is the closest I’ve ever been to grieving someone – and whilst I know that the degenerative nature of alzheimer’s would have caused me to lose her anyway, it’s tougher knowing that I was the first to walk away.

But, in the words of one of my favourite poets; “There is leaving and there is leaving you.”

And whilst it still hurts, I somehow manage to make it through each day. Sometimes I get emotional when I think of all the amazing moments in my life that she has missed in the last 12 months, and the many more that she will likely never witness. But pain is a part of growth, and in some twisted way, an unavoidable companion of love. I have walked away from many people in my life without a flinch or a backwards glance. I love myself enough to walk away from anything toxic. I am not self destructive. But when you love someone as much, if not more, than you love yourself, you effectively lose a part of yourself in the process of losing them.

I have had to rebuild and reboot in many ways over the past year in order to simply function without my Nana in my life. The person I am today is largely in part to her love, guidance and influence. To know me is to know her, and I will continue to live my life in a way in which she would be proud.