Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears

We were watching a comedy repeat on the television when the phone rang. It’s a bit late for calls, I thought, vaguely, as H muted the TV and reached for the receiver.

He made a strange noise, part cry, part groan, very quiet, and I knew, and I did not need to be told. H’s beloved Grandfather had died.

We knew he would die before Easter. We knew he was terminally ill, and we were both sick of twitching every time the phone rang, and yet, still, I was – briefly – astonished. He died? That gentle, melancholy, poetical, romantic man, with all his immense talents and extraordinary gifts, his quiet wry charm, his intelligence, his kindness, his beautiful smile (H is so very like him), there was too much of him, too much loved, to simply go. And while H and I were commuting home in the dusk, or bickering about the washing up, or listening to the radio while I cooked and laughing, I felt no cold chill at all, no shiver, no warning. We’d already been warned. Why would we need another?

After H put the phone down I put my arms around him and stroked his hair, and passed him tissues and lit a candle. It is very important to light a Yahrzeit candle. I don’t know to whom, or why, being an atheist, as is H, as was H’s Grandfather, but it is important.

‘All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well,’ said Julian of Norwich, comfortingly. This is my meditation in times of trouble. It helps – it helps me, at least.

And also this: H’s Grandfather made the world glad by his very existance, and left so much behind him to keep on making the world glad. And I am honoured, above all things, to have been his grand-daughter, and his friend.


25 responses to “Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears

  • Korechronicles

    People die but love and relationships are eternal. Much love and sympathy to you and H. and all of H.’s extended family. I use that lovely and calming quote from Julian of Norwich a lot.

    Over the next little while tell all the grandfather stories and remember them well. One of the best advice for grief poems I know:

    If I should go before the rest of you
    Break not a flower
    Nor inscribe a stone
    Nor when I am gone
    Speak in a Sunday voice
    But be the usual selves
    That I have known

    Weep if you must
    Parting is hell
    But life goes on
    So …. sing as well

    ~Joyce Grenfell~

  • a

    I’m sorry for your loss. I recently read a really good sentiment for condolence; I just wish I could remember the words properly. I think it was something like “May his memory bring you comfort.”

    (Now we know why I’m such a hit at funerals)

  • g

    I am sorry, May.

    Loss is such a hard thing.


  • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

    I’m sorry to hear that he has passed away.

    I had always thought of lighting a yartzheit candle as a remembrance of how the person’s soul brought joy to one’s life.

  • Amy P

    I am so sorry. *hugs*

  • Betty M

    I’m so sorry. I’ve always found the Brian Patten poem So many lengths of time comforting in the face of loss. It’s based on a Neruda poem apparently. It might seem a bit trite but I offer it nonetheless less in remembrance.

  • QoB

    I am so sorry. It is one of the hardest things, that people just go.

    My person’s grandmother died this week, too. I didn’t know her that well, but what I knew I liked. It’s the week for funerals.

  • Emily Erin

    This is something that gave me comfort when my mother passed– I hope that it will give some perspective on the loss of H’s grandfather.

    “A Parable of Immortality” by Henry van Dyke.

    I am standing by the seashore.
    A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
    and starts for the blue ocean.
    She is an object of beauty and strength,
    and I stand and watch
    until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud
    just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other.

    Then someone at my side says, ‘There she goes!
    Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all.

    She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
    as she was when she left my side
    and just as able to bear her load of living freight
    to the places of destination.
    Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

    And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
    ‘There she goes! ‘ ,
    there are other eyes watching her coming,
    and other voices ready to take up the glad shout :
    ‘Here she comes!’

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    I find death astonishing, too. Every time, regardless of circumstance.

    I’m so sorry, both. My most sincere sympathies.

  • Illanare

    I am so sorry.

  • bionicbrooklynite

    It never seems any more believable, does it? Or fair.

    I am sorry. Love and peace to you and H.

  • Solnushka

    I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs to you and H. Thinking of you both.

  • Shannon

    I am so sorry for you both, May. Please pass on a gentle hug to H, and keep one for yourself as well. Our little household sends it love.

  • wombattwo

    So sorry May, to both you and H.
    Sending hugs xx

  • Anonymous

    Oh May and H. How sad.

    Always a shock, no matter if you are expecting it or not. I am so sorry. Another of the old guard is gone.

  • Twangy

    (This is my second attempt at a comment, the last having vanished. I do hope it doesn’t reappear unexpectedly.)

    It’s always a hammer blow, isn’t it, no matter if you are expecting it or not.

    I am so sorry, May and H. Another of the old guard is gone.

  • glumbunny

    He sounds like an amazing gem of a man, and I’m so sorry he’s gone. I hope you are both bearing up okay. It might seem dippy, but it helped me to think that that my father is still here, not watching over me like some kind of angel, but actually, in my genes, just as H’s grandfather is still present in H’s.

  • Jane G

    So sorry for your loss, May and H x

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