This may just be the last letter I ever write you. I’m sorry. You might never read it. Even if I get it to you in time, I can’t envisage you having the strength to read it. And yet it was you who took me on walks, pushed me on the swings, helped me climb monkey-bars for the first time by holding my feet…you were the one who I saw as strong, I saw as someone who would never fail in strength.
I was wrong, though. The cancer has stolen from you that inner strength and left you weak, unable to get out of bed. And now I’ve been told that you possibly only have hours, and I’m not there with you.
I hate that.
I wish I could say goodbye, Grandad. I wish that I was sitting there beside you and I could tell you of the things I never got a chance to share. Like the fact that I wrote a book, and it’s dedicated to you. It’s dedicated to you because you’ll never have a chance to read it. I was planning to print it out next week and bring it down to you. That’s not going to happen, is it?
So you never had the chance to read my work. But that’s not what kills me. What kills me is that I know I won’t be there to say goodbye and you’ll never know that I love you. What kills me is that I’m never going to see you again. Do you believe in God, Grandad? I never was sure on that front, but I thought the answer was ‘no’. Yes, that’s what kills me.
We’re not going to meet again.
When you part with someone you love, you hug them, don’t you? You say ‘goodbye’ and ‘I’ll see you soon’. The only thing is, you’re too far away. Here I am, sitting in my bedroom and longing to be with you. You’re fifty miles away! You can’t hear me!
Mum’s there. I can be glad of that. There, Grandad, you’ve got your daughter with you, even if your granddaughter is still at home. You’ve got your wife and your daughter. Perhaps your other children are nearby; perhaps they have arrived by now, hearing the frantic phone call.
I don’t know. I’m still here, waiting for the news. I’m sitting at my laptop trying to write but all the words are taken from me in my fear and grief. I’m writing another book. I wish you could have read the first one. I think you would have liked it.
In a way, it was Grandma that inspired me to write it, because she bought me the book that first got me interested in Irish Dance and the music that accompanies it. But it was you that I dedicated it to. Oh, Grandad, I wish you were here. I wish you had long enough to see me published and to tell me that you were proud of me. I wish you were watching me on the news, talking to the reporter about how I managed to write a bestseller so young.
Or perhaps I was hoping you would see me standing on the podium after a dance competition, holding my trophy for coming first and beaming all over my face. Perhaps I was hoping you would see me take my grade 8 on the flute and violin and know that now I was a proper musician; now I could say safely, ‘I am a musician.’
I don’t know what I was hoping, but I wish you were here. I wish you knew I was writing this, but you never will. Maybe Grandma will find it one day.
Here are a few memories of you that I hold in my heart.