Family are many things. I always saw family as important, but that level of importance hit a whole new level in 2012 when my daughter was born. She is my world and I'm in awe of both her and my soon-to-be wife every day. They are 2nd to none and I'd give up everything in a heartbeat for their happiness.
Yesterday, I experienced another layer of family. One that I hadn't felt in a long time. My siblings & I, the 4 of us, have always shared a special bond. Life gets busy though when you're growing your own families and yes it may feel like its faded a little over the years but we are always there for each other. We stood united, along with our cousins & aunties & uncles & my pop to farewell one of the most amazing ladies I've ever met. It was a tough day. Emotions up, down, left, right and any other way you could possibly imagine. I couldn't be prouder to be part of this family. I'd missed this & them a lot and it was great see and understand the impact that Gran had on them too.
There is no simple way to explain what Gran meant to me. My sister summed it up pretty well in her beautiful eulogy in that she always made us feel special, like the most important person in the world, that we were capable of anything and that she was so very proud of us no matter what life choices we made. Elaborating, for me specifically, that she always filled the void of honest, positive encouragement in my personal life. In her own unique way, she was a motivator, coach and mentor and taught me to believe in and challenge myself.
The part that upsets me the most is that I never truly realised this until recently. I mean, I always valued her words because they were filled with love and made me feel awesome. But the actual depth of those words subtly added to my confidence and played a huge part in making me who I am today. This is the most important thing I wanted to tell her before she left us. When I saw her the day before, I could only squeeze out the words "I love you" and "I miss you", even though I knew she was close, I could not bring myself to tell her, to accept that she might not be there the next day.
And now that she is gone, all I can think about is the time I've wasted being away from her and, upon reflection, just how much not having her around has left a massive gap in my life. Sure, we all say life gets busy, and we all make assumptions that the people we love will be there tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day. But they sure as hell may not be. If there is one final lesson Gran has taught me it's that I need to value the people that care about me & that I care about the most. Even if it is difficult, even if there is distance, even if there are daily distractions, nobody is more important than these people, for they are the ones that value & deserve our love the most.
While I'll never be sure, I'll keep telling myself that Gran knew exactly what I meant and that from now on, to the people that I love, I'll speak loud & clear.