The week before Halloween we went to Ireland for a lovely but rather emotional visit. When I was little the drill was that summer holidays were spent in Ireland every other year, and with my paternal grandparents in Värmland the “other” years. This was so we’d have two years to save up for the holidays. After my mother died we went more often, even for Christmas. Since I was 17, however, I hadn’t been. Lack of money and time, basically (when there was time there was no money and vice versa). Now my sister and her family have moved there and we simply HAD to go somehow. The planned summer visit was spoiled by me working. However, it turned out that her kids were on holiday as well as mine, we found a cheap flight and so we took the chance. I’m delighted that we went. The visit was much too short for someone who has been away for more than 15 years, but better a short visit than none.
I wasn’t really able to allow myself to get emotional there (didn’t want to scare the kids) nor am I able to let it all out at home (yet), but it felt very sad suddenly to be living so far away from my sister and her family. Not that it’s far. Not like Australia or Namibia or Easter Island. But still. My nephew and niece are growing so big, and we’re not around. And they’ll never be as close to our youngest as they are to our elder daughters. It feels strange, even though I’m so pleased for them all, they seem to be doing so well. And there have been so many changes! My grandmother’s house looks the same from the outside, but inside it’s completely different. The rooms aren’t even in the same place. While part of me is unbothered by the differences (after all, change is inevitable), another part of me feels childishly upset.
Added to this is the death and funeral of a beloved aunt. She was my aunt by marriage, but you know how with some people it never feels like there’s a difference? Well, that’s what it was like with her. She was one of the warmest, kindest, most genuine people I have ever known. My heart breaks for her sons, my cousins, and for their children. She loved her grandchildren so much, and it feels so terribly terribly unfair that the youngest will never know her. As for myself, I am being eaten up by regrets that I never spent more time with her. It doesn’t help knowing that a lot of that is due to my own low self-esteem, that never allows me to think that other people really might enjoy my company – instead I keep away, so as not to disturb them. I’ve missed all those chances to talk to her. The last few years when I knew she was sick I found it especially difficult, because I was so afraid. It’s weakness, and I’m ashamed of it. I hope that she knew, or knows, that I loved her very much, that I am grateful for everything she did for me, and that I’m so so sorry. She loved literature too, and this spring she had sent me an invitation to join a sort of chain mail paperback swap that is all the rage here. You send a book to the person at the top of the list, and invite six friends to join, the idea being that you’ll end up with 36 books. I joined as a way to try to tell her I cared, but I should have rung and talked to her properly instead. I hope she received some books out of the swap, and I hope she enjoyed them. I feel so much guilt, and guilt is so useless unless you channel it. I hope I can channel this into learning to stay close to the people I love.