Your blood flows on in mine.
Red, London red, sharp with the acrid splinter of the Blitz and the rough hands of a long line of faceless women cradling the infant heads of my mongrel ancestors. As my heart beats, it beats with the life you gave my mother and mine. Your earthly blood and memories mingle on my lips and I taste the salt of my tears. I crave your small frail arms over mine for one final time. In my head you are biting deep into a strawberry in the July sunshine, eyes closed at the simple succulence. Now, the earth is barren with the dark hardness of the shortest days. I desire your face in the sunlight, and for a moment, it is before me at the intake of my sadness. You are present and now eternally absent.
Your memory is a blessing
We believe humans live on in memory. You die twice: once when your heart stops, and once when the last person who remembers you forgets your name and face. You will go back to God; the everything, the blue spaces above aeroplanes and the wet earth by the pine trees. You become the stardust and the rocks beneath the stream and the bees in summer. You are cradled in the nape of Orion and you slumber on the monsoon tides. You are ever present and now, eternally absent.
I will not be the last charged with your memory. There are those younger than me who treasure the shape of your name and the wide teeth of your smile. They will remember your immaculate nails that you loved to paint with the colour of the flowers in your garden, the grey waves that broke on your forehead and the rings on your fingers from the husband you loved above all others.
Back to Bertie.
You were a working class girl, the last child in London after the trains left with your friends for evacuation. Typing pool girl with the immaculate clothes. We had the coarse mystery of common blood but that never stopped you dressing like Princess Anne. Grandpa loved you. He took you to the theatre because you were pretty. You always were, even at ninety. Do you know how much I loved you? I hope you do. You had a lost way of hard love, all clean socks and table manners, the correct time to take tea and the right amount of toast for a young lady. You had a way of saying I love you in a way that was never spoken aloud.
He died so young, so cruelly with illness. He never got to spend his hard earned retirement with you. You woke up beside him. I hope you woke with him this afternoon, and I hope he brought you joy. That was your name, after all. Joy.
Where are you tonight, Grandma? Lying in a body in your bed, surrounded by your clothes and books to be moved? Up in the stars and moon? Cradling me as I write this? Or gone?
Perhaps, as with my Adonai, you are everywhere.
Like him, you are present and now eternally absent.