Grief

Grief

Grief is a strange thing. It can sneak up on you, even after time has passed. Sometimes out of the blue, sometimes you know the reason. Today is my nanny’s twentieth anniversary. I knew I would feel it, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of sadness and loss that hit me yesterday. I miss her. I know I’m not the only one who does. This makes it a little easier, but doesn’t change the sense of loss.

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There is a song, the name of which escapes me, which contains the line “Got to let go”. I misheard it as “Galileo”. It pops up on the radio every so often and as I laugh I think of my nanny. The song was released after her death, so she’s never heard it. It’s my misheard song lyric that reminds me of her.

She once thought Cliff Richard was singing about a “spastic cat” and wondered why 4 Non Blondes were “trying to get up the great big hill of Howth”. So, you can see where I get it from.

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I check my phone, like I do most mornings, and find myself saying, “No, no, no…” as I scroll through Twitter. But this isn’t a hoax and David Bowie is dead. I barely manage to tell Paul before I begin to cry.

Seeing social media flood with Bowie’s music is comforting. It helps to know other people miss him too.

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Growing up, Christmas meant the Stephen’s Day party in my nanny’s house. To this day I know the lyrics to more songs than I care to mention as a result of my aunts and uncles. Name an Eagles song and I can sing it. I’m not recommending you actually ask me to sing, I didn’t inherit my Dad’s voice.

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Glenn Frey’s death hit me harder than I thought it would. I wonder if I’m overreacting, but realise that when someone’s music plays a huge part in your life it’s OK to mourn them. It’s a grief of sorts and it’s understandable. It is not the same as losing a loved one, but that doesn’t make it less valid.

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I am sitting in her kitchen eating strawberries. She turns to my Dad and says, “Will you take the washing in before it rains?” While he is out in the back garden she laughs and says to me and my brother, “Go on, you can dip the strawberries in sugar. He won’t know.”

That’s her sugar bowl in the photo above. I’ve kept it all these years. It’s an inanimate object, but it means the world to me. It’s like having a little piece of her close by.

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It’s the early hours of the morning and I can’t sleep, so like any sensible person I check my phone. I’m saying “No, no, no…” again as I see tweet after tweet say Leonard Cohen has died. Not again, 2016. You’ve taken enough from us. We can’t take much more.

I open YouTube and search for Leonard performing ‘I’m Your Man’. When I’ve finished listening, I tweet a link to the video. Once again, my timeline is wall to wall musical genius. Once again, it is comforting.

I remember this gorgeous blog post, by Derek Flynn, about Leonard Cohen’s skill as a songwriter and get teary-eyed while reading it.

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Twenty years is a long time, but it is also no time at all. A lot happens, but memories don’t fade and people aren’t forgotten.

I didn’t know her for nearly long enough, but I was lucky to have her in my life. There are still times when I ask “What would skinny nanny do?” when I’m trying to figure something out. It’s comforting to think her no-nonsense, yet non-judgemental presence is still around even though she’s not. Would she be proud of me? I hope so.

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Last night I ran myself a bath, put on some music and cried. My plan for tonight is the same, this time to a soundtrack of Leonard Cohen. Because sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is allow the tears to fall.

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