Oh, Grandad, if I could tell you how despairing I was when I first heard how ill you were, you would cry too. If I could tell you how hard my ‘editors’ worked to read my book and help me improve it so that you could read it before it’s too late, you would cry too. If I told you how sympathetic they were, how they gave up their own time to help me because of you, you’d cry too.
I so wanted you to read that book, Grandad. I so wanted you to see my work and to know how I wrote. Perhaps you’d even see it published—but it was not to be.
Now I can’t write at all because I’m sitting here, waiting for the phone call that won’t come. I’m going out in half an hour. I’m not coming back for long before we leave again. And yet we expect to catch a phone call from Mum who’s with you, to tell us what’s going on.
I don’t know how we’ll ever manage it. But I do know something.
I love you, Grandad. I haven’t told you that enough. I love you because you’re my grandfather, and I love you because of the things we’ve done together, with me as a small child clinging on to your large, friendly hand. I love you because of the stories you’ve told and the conversations we’ve had.
Remember, a couple of months ago, when you sat in your rocking chair and I played for you on the violin? Do you remember that? How everything has changed. Mum told me you couldn’t even get out of bed. Now she said you have a hospital bed so that you can adjust it to how you want.
I never wanted you to get ill. You’re supposed to live! What happened to making it to one hundred years? You could have done that, Grandad. Damn the cancer! Why you? Why does it have to be my Grandad, the mathematician, the one who was clever and loved us and had grandchildren who loved him? Why does it have to be you, Grandad? I want you to live!
And now I’m crying as I write but I don’t care. I never wanted it to be you. I didn’t want it to be anyone, but you least of all. I wish you knew how the tears were blurring my vision so that the neat writing on the computer screen so that I could hardly read it, but you can’t. You’re so far away and you’re so confused…
Do you remember how we used to write to each other about maths? I don’t really like maths but it’s your subject and we used to do it together. I wish we still could. I don’t get half the stuff we do in class and the girl I sit next to, Annie, is a maths genius: but rubbish at explaining.
Oh, I wish you could have met Annie. You would have loved her, I know. She’s so quiet and gentle and she loves maths, but she’s a brilliant friend and she doesn’t laugh at me. She goes along with my schemes even if she thinks they’re crazy. Sometimes she takes part herself, like with Script Frenzy, where you have to write a script in a month.
Annie wrote that with me. I love her for that.
Yes, I wanted her to meet you. I told her that one day we were all going to go down to the cottage together and you guys would be able to talk. That was in September, perhaps October. I never knew you would get worse so quickly. Now she’ll never get the chance to see your face and you’ll never get the chance to see hers.