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.