A place can be so like a person: the two become inseparable.
Weather can match a feeling. The hush of snow, white noise, flakes large enough to seem like feathers falling. Endings are final, but love stays with you for as long as you live. Even forever, when it moves from person to person.
There comes a point when you stop taking people for granted. When you become aware of mortality, and each time you leave someone, you are acutely aware of how easily time can pass. Goodbyes become bittersweet. You try to pour as much love into those goodbyes as you can, to make sure they understand just how much you appreciate them.
And they tell you they love you, and you keep those words close, afraid of forgetting how it feels to be loved in this particular way. Except you have a lifetime of memories to remind you of how being loved as a grandchild feels. A lifetime of gentle kisses, a Yorkshire accent, a lullaby sung, that even now, plays randomly in my mind. The familiar safety of a place and a person who never made you feel unwelcome.
The smell of her handbag, a powdery, vaguely sweet scent, that clung to her handkerchiefs and tissues. That drifted from her makeup bag after she was gone. The burning woodsmoke hanging in the air on our walks through the village, as she hummed a melody to herself. And the stars that we saw, on our wander the night she died – so bright. The road glittered with ice and moonlight.
That day, in the afternoon, I took photos of the garden. Sorting through memories, capturing the way the light hit the melting snow. Readying myself for the waves of grief I knew would soon come. Expecting it didn’t make it easier. There is no equation to it – you can’t weigh or measure the value of memories, of love. A little Robin songbird settled on the tree overlooking her garden.
When I see snow, moonlight and stars – I will remember. When I smell face powder, I will think of her. I will miss her smile, her singing, her handwriting, her way of speaking. When I re-read Pride and Prejudice, I will remember that it was her favourite. I will hold on to the love she gave, and give it to others. It will pass on. And a lifetime of memories – for anyone who wants to listen.
‘I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.’
– Extract from poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye.
*This post: Strength and Resilience – was inspired by my Gran.