I had a very specific post in mind for this morning and last night, as I was searching for a picture related to my chosen subject, I came across the one above, quite unexpectedly. I didn’t even realise I had this photograph in my possession - it was stored away in a folder, within a folder within another folder. Upon seeing it the very breath caught in my throat since Grainne, the beautiful brunette by my side, passed away very suddenly on December 9th, 2013. She was only 36.
The subject I had previously planned on addressing immediately paled into insignificance; I wanted to write about Grainne, to pen a befitting tribute to someone who made a firm and lasting impression upon me and everyone else who knew her.
I first met Grainne when I bought my flat in Northampton back in 2007. She and Andy lived across the road, next door to Winnie. They moved away in 2009 to a bigger house as they wanted to start a family, and sure enough, Posy came along in 2010 followed by Monty in 2012.
I continued to keep in touch from time to time via Facebook and would see Grainne and the kids every now and again when they came to Winnie’s to collect mail that was still being sent to their old house. I found it so easy to chat to Grainne: I loved her easy-going manner, her practical nature and her wicked sense of humour. She may have been small in stature but she packed an almighty punch!
I hadn’t seen Grainne for quite some time when in October she sent me a Facebook message asking if I would be able to cover some zumba classes - the instructor that took the class she attended was pregnant and looking for someone to take over during her maternity leave. I couldn’t help out in that instance but we said there and then that it had been too darn long and that it was time we got together for a good, old natter. Well, life got in the way, as it so often does, and we didn’t get together. But it didn’t matter because we had all the time in the world. Didn’t we?
It was a Friday, a couple of weeks before Christmas and I was over at Winnie’s having a cuppa. She informed me that Grainne had been having difficulties breathing and had been taken into hospital so they could investigate. I wasn’t overly concerned at this point and nor was Winnie: here was a strong, health and fitness conscious 36 year old who had barely been ill a day in her life. No doubt it was merely a virus or infection and some antibiotics and bed rest would see Grainne right as rain in no time.
The following Monday I returned home from Zumba and was perusing my newsfeed on Facebook when my eyes fell upon this:
I sat there completely immobile as my mind went into overdrive trying to make sense of what I had just read. I read it again. And again. And a dozen more times before I allowed myself to even contemplate what it meant. And then I cried. I cried for longer than I have ever cried for before and my heart felt like it was going to burst. I cried for Andy, for Posy, for Monty, for Winnie and for myself. Remorse and regret stabbed at me like a thousand knives: why, oh why didn’t I go and see Grainne when I’d had the chance? That thought has crossed my mind many times since.
It turned out that a silent enemy had invaded Grainne from within: Mestastatic Adenocarcinoma. The first indication that anything was untoward was when her breathing became laboured and by then it was too late.
I was unable to attend Grainne’s funeral service, I was back home in Scotland, but from what I hear it was a beautiful and felicitous celebration of a life well-lived and of a person well and truly loved.
Grainne leaves behind Andy, Posy, Monty, a large and loving family and a wide circle of friends, all moving bravely forward with their lives whilst still trying to come to terms with their loss.
Life is precious and life is fragile - we never know what awaits us from one day to the next. With that in mind, my dear Warriors, I leave with you some simple yet profound counsel from Andy. I know that I will be carrying those words, and my memories of Grainne, close to my heart.
Ginger Warrior, over and out.
P.S. Is there somebody you would like to pay tribute to? I would be honoured if you were to share their story with us.