Farewell To My Grandmother

Initially this post was going to be about the time when I got stood up on a date on last Saturday. Typically enough, these things happen to me because, well, I am not exactly sure why. Something else happened the following day which made the unfortunate event less important, if it ever had any importance. I lost my grandmother. It doesn’t find anywhere in the current context of this blog, but this is part of this lifetime, and it’s bigger than anything I’ve ever written.

Her life wasn’t easy. Grandmother always said – going through life isn’t the same as crossing the field – it’s a literal translation, it carried more profound meaning when it was said by her, in Russian. She was born in 1940 Russia when the hardships of war and post-war trauma was weighting heavily on the generation betrayed by the ruling class, the same class which was sent to be slaughtered by Stalin and his parasite huntsmen. The lack of faith in the future and bitter memory of the past was passed on with mothers’ milk to the youth which had no future other than mere survival inflamed by boredom, hard labour and alcoholism. Yet one thing which always remained untainted was love.

My grandmother had a tough start to her life. Being born into peasant family, she got married at the age of 17 to the love of her life, a handsome young man, my grandfather whom I never met. By the age of 25 she already had two young boys and an alcoholic husband. Alcohol, infidelity and violence was a shadow placed upon young woman’s life who didn’t know any better, in fact nobody knew any better, this was the characteristics of the era of the post war small Russian village. However love that she had for my grandfather soothed her existence over the years. Even after his death, she would often speak of him, the love of her life, Nikolay.

Widowed at the age of 33 she remained faithful to him till the end of her life. She lived alone in the remote town called Energetic, Orenburg. She’d come visit both of her sons for a few months every couple of years to look after her grandchildren. I remember her being incredibly stubborn and stern, sometimes clumsy and very protective of her sons which drove my mother mad, but she was also kind and unconditionally loved her grandchildren.

I also remember heated arguments I had with my mother who’d often compare me to grandmother. She criticised my adolescent bitterness, stubbornness and defiance as if it was an inherited flaw. I desperately tried to shake it off, only to realise years later that a so called flaw in character is a flaw my grandmother had no control over. Can you blame somebody for being born into a society which was destroyed and demoralised  by war and poverty?  A flaw which drove a desperate woman to find herself at the edge of the cliff with two young boys and as if by the same flaw she found her way back to the long lost faith in the future.

I treasure every bit of that flaw I have in me because I am the woman today because of this woman and I am sorry I will never be able to tell her that. I’m terribly sorry. I am sorry I haven’t seen her in more than ten years, I am terribly sorry I didn’t say ‘I love you my darling’ enough. She died in a care home alone, two days before her 77th birthday, far away from where she was born and lived all her life. She often spoke about how she wished to be buried next to her beloved Nikolay, I am sorry her wish didn’t come true. There aren’t enough sorries in the world to redeem the hard life she had. I only hope, that wherever she is right now, she’s at peace in the sweet embrace with the man she loved. R.I.P my darling. I will miss you forever.

Farewell To My Grandmother

About Death Part 2

It was one of those nights when due to any possible unforeseen circumstance I am not sleeping. Mostly for two reasons – first and the most important is pesky dry cough that seems to be ruling my life and possibly everyone else’s living in the same flat (and a lesbian couple in the flat next door) and the second is possibly full moon that’s been having a strange effect on me since I was a little girl. In order to  get through the night and not create a sleepless night for my flatmates, I made a decision to move into the kitchen with a massive cup of peppermint tea that appears to be the only cure to my cough.

It’s not the first sleepless night I’ve had this week. Few days ago I learned that a very dear man in my life had passed away under tragic circumstances that prompt me to write a blog entry on death which was a little less that I wanted to say and a little more that people would like to know. Since it’s 3 am,  it’s full moon outside and I think my abdominals are more defined from coughing for the past 3 hours, I am submerging in a rather mystical mood and this is a totally new thing to me.

“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

What happens after we die? Nobody really knows. There are numerous legends about what happens to the soul once it leaves the body. You go to heaven or hell. You may reincarnate into another living being. Or may be, as I mentioned in my previous post, you wake up from the dream and continue your existence on a new dimension? All of this thinking is a true brain wreck. Most spiritual teachers would tell you your soul becomes a part of the whole or the divine source and in the quote above my dear William is implying exactly that and this is why I love this quote so much.

Romeo is now shinning the light on his Juliet at night and day, even when she can’t see him. Romeo will be in the raindrops landing on a leaf so when she wants to kiss him, she can gently place her lips upon it to feel his wet lips against hers.  And when she will be rolling on the grass, she will feel his gentle touch against her skin. All of the sudden death is no longer tragic. It creates a new meaning for loss and grief that we experience after losing someone close to us.

The beauty of such thinking isn’t form of denial, quite the opposite, it’s a form of acceptance of the fact that we come and go as naturally as sun raises in the morning and dusks in the evening. Hardly anyone chooses when they must leave this existence, yet tragedy truly lies in suicide. Hardly a favourable choice but still a choice which chills me to the bone and it’s not because it makes me face my own temporality as a human being, but the thought process that happened in the head of the deceased. Not that I am totally unfamiliar with the intention, but  there is certain power in these four simple words –this too shall pass. That no matter how dark is the night, sun will always rise and this too shall pass. And the thing after this.

In the loving memory of Neil.

A beautiful man who lived so briefly yet shone so brightly.

I will never forget you.



About Death Part 2