Grief has a way of sitting in the back seat. But it never ever quite gets out of the car. And it has a nasty habit of jumping up into the front seat every now and again.
About a week ago I woke up from a nasty nightmare. I was speaking to my grandmother on the telephone but she couldn't hear me. No matter how hard I tried or how loudly I yelled she couldn't hear me.
On February 4 2005 I had the last conversation that I would ever have with her. She was supposed to come and visit me and my family and was due to arrive on 11 February. Clearly, that wasn't going to happen as she had gotten gravely ill over the Christmas holiday and spent weeks in the hospital.
But my Nanny was a tough old boot. She'd been sick before and she always recovered. I had convinced myself on some level that she would outlast me.
She called me about 8 pm in the evening just as she was being transferred to a rehabilitation home where it was expected she would make a full recovery and be back at home in the next few weeks.
We knew she would need some time to get her groove back so when we spoke we talked about rescheduling her trip to September. She felt certain that she would be up to visiting by that time.
When we hung up I told her I loved her and that I would talk to her as soon as she was back home and was really looking forward to September.
That last conversation haunts me. It is the stuff of my nightmares. I wish I had known that I wouldn't have another opportunity to tell her just what an amazing woman she was and how grateful I was that she was a part of my life. I wanted to thank her for loving me and helping me to grow into a strong and resilient woman.
People always say that you never know what is going to happen so make sure you tell the people you love that you do. I did. But what I wanted to say what so much more than that. And if I walked around telling people what I think of them all the time, I'd be in serious trouble (both good and bad). My friends would think I was losing touch with reality and start avoiding me. I'd be oversentimental. My sister would have me locked up. She thinks I'm a bit mad to begin with.
But just this once I wish I'd known. I wish I hadn't been such a positive thinker and so dang certain she would get better. I wish I had seen into the future.
And made that conversation count.
I know this time of year that grief is sitting right next to me. It is squeezing my hand and making it difficult to breath. I know that my subconscious knew this day was coming before my conscious mind did, hence the nightmare. I just wish I'd known that day was coming as this day comes round every year and reminds how little I know.