Set immediately after Mary-Lou
26 December 195-
It feels a bit funny to be writing to a dead person – but then it still feels very funny that you’re not here. Well, not funny exactly, but you know what I mean. In fact it’s sometimes unbearably sad.
I thought to myself when I went back to school last term that it’d be strange to be at home for Christmas without you here, and it is. Oh, everyone has tried to make it a happy time, and I know you wouldn’t have wanted anyone to mope, but oh Gran, I am missing you.
Thinking about it, I suppose you were really like another parent for me. I hardly remember my father – your son, of course – and he died when I hadn’t got to know him, really, even through all those smashing stories that you and Mother told me about him. And then I was very young when he did die (I know you probably think I am still very young but actually, I feel that I’ve grown up quite a lot, especially this term – I’m even wearing my hair in one tail instead of two!).
It’s been a difficult term in a lot of ways. We had a new girl, Jessica, who was a bit of a problem. Auntie Joey turned me on to her, rather, and asked me to butt in and try to help. It turned out that she (Jessica) was really jealous and miserable because her mother had married again, and she had a sister-by-marriage. It was odd, Gran, because when she found out about young Verity, she asked if I didn’t mind sharing my mother with her. Of course I said I didn’t – and even called on some of your words of wisdom about how if your love is worth anything, it’s big enough to share with others. But I have to admit I did have a few niggling thoughts about it afterwards. It was just Mother, and you, and me, for so many years; then it was Commander Carey and Verity too. Now, of course, it’s just the four of us, not that I’m sure it’s really properly an “us” yet. I know Mother loves me, of course, and I do love Verity, but it’s not really the same – although I’m thrilled that Mother is happy. Throughout it all, during the “transition”, if you like, it was such a help to me to have you there, to know that you and I belonged, really belonged. It sounds selfish, but I knew I’d always come first with you, and somehow it really matters to feel you come first with someone (no matter what I said to Jessica!)
Auntie Joey is going to have another baby, by the way; that’s really how she persuaded me to have a go with Jessica, because she was going to be “busy”. I wonder if it will be these quads she’s always threatening (and I think I know what you’d have thought about that, although you would never actually say it out loud!)
Oh Gran, there were so many times that I thought about you last term. There were the serious times (I was glad you weren’t there to be worried when I had an accident in the snow – no, no lasting damage, and yes, I suppose it was because I was butting in again!) but also the less serious. For example, we had a “great famine” last term (not really, we just had to do without meat and other fresh things for a few days because of the weather) and I thinking of how you’d have dealt with any complaining!
And then there were the odd times when something reminded of you and I couldn’t help but feel the tears choking in my throat (don’t worry, I never allowed them to reach my eyes, at least, never in front of anyone else). It sounds silly but I once had to go to the splasheries for a glass of water because I was offered an apple and remembered your rules about never eating more than three at once. And I had to move away quite quickly one day when someone was talking about umbrellas, and I remembered how you’d threatened to make me replace mine out of my own pocket money if I lost yet another one.
I wish I could ask you, Gran, if this feeling will ever get any better? Will I stop missing you so much: it’s there every day, even Christmas Day. Maybe especially Christmas Day. In a way I’m glad you can’t read this letter as I know you’d soon tell me to buck myself up and stop being a silly moke (although maybe you wouldn’t have said “moke”). But I get the feeling that deep down you’d understand; maybe that’s partly why I’m so sad that you’re gone.
Your loving granddaughter, Mary-Lou