Saturday, 9 November 2013

Page from February 2013. Death in the Rain.

When my dad called to say my grandfather died I was sitting by a huge fireplace in North Portugal, drinking white port wine and chatting horses with a lovely couple from Canada. It was raining outside, this odd invisible rain that soaks you through without you realising. I certainly didn't feel it as I later stood on a stone path staring at the magnificent valley opening up before my eyes and trying to make sense of the words I was hearing on the other side of the phone.

Part of my job at the time was to greet people, make sure they had all they needed as they arrived at the centre, chat with them. It was an easy part for me, I like making people feel welcome and well looked after. It was made even easier by the fact I was dealing with really awesome guests from all over the world bringing their own unique stories with them.

When you look back at life you can pinpoint the moments when turns happen but at the time it starts to twist you only see the minute before your eyes and back then, I just picked up the phone. Do you ever think where will you be when one of your close family dies? Do you ever feel scared at the thought?

Random thoughts like a memory of watching butterflies with my grandfather was what my mind presented to me at the time. My grandfather loved wildlife and forestry. He would spend hours talking about habits of wild boars, wolves, birds, deer; he loved going into the woods and watching everything, reading footprints on the ground. His house was always filled with books about hunting although it seemed like getting to know the animal was more of a fascination for him than the actual act of shooting it.
As my dad and I disconnected the call, I was sure I couldn't go back to the couple inside and pick up the conversation so I walked towards the stables. I remember thinking thank goodness it was raining as the guests would just assume I got drenched rather than I was crying.
The yard was quiet, it was a Sunday afternoon, the time when pretty much nothing was supposed to happen with horses. I didn't want to get spotted by the groom who was there somewhere ready to prepare evening feeds so I went into the stable of one of my favourite jumping horses, sat down on the floor and took comfort from his oblivious presence.

In turmoil of tangled memories I wondered how I could get out of the evening meal which was a big occasion with many more guests to arrive when my boss phoned. As I was gathering my thoughts to say what I had just found out he told me he was not feeling well, he was on way to hospital and would not be coming in for a few days. So I said nothing of my news because my boss not coming meant I was the only person left on site to receive and entertain the guests. And one thing I hate in life is to disappoint people who put trust in me.

So I wiped my face, got up from the floor, hugged the horse and walked back through the rain and into the fireplace room.

The weeks that followed were a mess. There were so many emotions that ran through me then, it was like feeling the pain of my father, my grandmother, my brother, my own. Sounds a cliche, don't pity me, sooner or later every single one of us gets to experience something that shakes our foundations. We were always very close with my grandparents and although I was old enough to accept the life and death scenario, there is never anything logical about the feeling of loss.
My work hours were all over the place back then with many very late nights for many months and early mornings the next day but that crazy, hard, sleepless time oddly prepared me for very testing moments that were to come later...

It's a little under half a year now since my grandfather's death and it's unreal to think how many things happened that would never have otherwise occurred...

The above text is a part of a chapter from the blogbook "Never Give Up"

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