I grew up with the most remarkable grandparents. I’m sure everyone says that. Somehow, it’s probably true for each of us.
Grandparents who cheered us on from the sidelines during netball or football games. Who snuck us lollies when our parents weren’t looking. Who told us funny stories of nostalgia, about the days we weren’t alive for, or were too young to remember. Who read us copious amounts of books. Who filled our bellies with so much food. Who often bent the rules, because mums and dads are “too strict these days”.
Grandparents who were our biggest, strongest fans. Our fiercest protectors. Who never said a bad word about us – or anyone for that matter. Grandparents who were giddy with excitement upon hearing our latest school results, or meeting our first partners. Who beamed with happiness whenever we walked through their front door. Who just wanted us to settle down and give them great-grandchildren already.
On this exact day last week, my beautiful, gorgeous, cheeky grandfather died. My Poppa. Our family's sun and light. Despite his terminal diagnosis it was a brutal blow. We knew he was sick, we just didn't expect him to leave so soon.
Now the hole he has left feels gaping. Seeing "his chair" in my grandparents' home sends a lightning bolt of pain into my chest. That was his favourite chair. It was his chair. And now it's empty.
I keep forgetting that visiting "Nanny and Poppa's house" is really just "Nanny's house" now.
It's a unique grief that comes with losing a grandparent. After all, they are old. Their faces are weathered with the many years that came before we ever existed. We have witnessed their bodies become frailer over time, all while we grew up to be bigger and stronger. We've always known their time with us is limited. Nobody lives forever. This is just what happens. This is life.
And yet, the pain is no duller. The waves of grief when they're gone still feel crushing in their intensity. This is what we expected, we knew this was coming, this is just the order of things, but it still hurts so damn much.
Because when our grandparents go, there is a loss of that love. An unyielding, untarnished love. A wise love that can mend all of our silly young person problems with a cup of tea, a biscuit, and a chat. A tender love that unknowingly shaped us from the moment we first cried, to the moment we leave the world ourselves. A unique love. A wholesome love. A special love.
My grandfather is gone, and I knew this was coming. I just didn't know how incredibly painful it would be anyway.