g o o d b y e g r a n n y

[ 23:58 monday 12 may – haggerston road, london ]

i spent the weekend with granny. on saturday she alternated between three states. the first appeared to reflect agitation: scrunched up brow, lifted left knee, dabbing at her mouth and nose with her right hand. the second state looked like surprise or wonderment: lying still, raising her forehead and eyebrows. the third state was tranquil: either asleep or perfectly calm. her eyes were closed all the time. she didn’t speak but occasionally made noises in her throat. she was definitely aware of what was going on around her. a couple of times when she was agitated i spoke reassuringly at her side and she relaxed. when mum and i lifted her up, held a glass of water to her lips and urged her to drink some she did. when i held her hand she responded by squeezing it.

on sunday she’d passed a step further and ceased responding to anything. i sat with her for three hours and it was the most difficult time i’ve spent with her. holding her hand without feeling her fingers tighten around mine was particularly tough. her hands were so warm, the life was so conspicuous in her, but she was completely inert. writing about it now is making me cry again. for some of the time i dozed with my forehead against hers on the pillow, which brought to mind all the mornings as a child when i’d woken up early and crept into bed with her. i talked to her, thanking her for believing in me and loving me. i wished her strength for the voyage she was undertaking and told her i was there at her side every step. i sang some folk songs i thought she’d like, though my voice faltered.

eventually the time came for me to leave. it felt like the last moment i’d ever be with her. walking away was unbearably difficult. i kept turning back to kiss her and say goodbye yet time. finally i walked backwards through the door, watching her sleeping form until the very last second. with tears pouring down my face i continued to repeat “goodbye granny” as i walked out of the hospital and as i cycled through the streets of ludlow. today, whenever she comes to mind i repeat it again.

goodbye granny.

: c :

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