Dear Chrissie – My heart sank when I heard the news today. Happy childhood memories of you slid into focus, and I have sorely missed those tidied-away vignettes of the past. At once I saw you and Tzu-Ling sunning yourselves in the garden. She was such a gorgeous wee dog. Was I even eight that summer? You encouraged me to rob Heather’s chocolate bars from her hiding place under her bed. You had a mean streak that made me smile, and which I often see now in myself; a giddy, cheeky pleasure in inflicting harmless misery on others. I remember the last time we sat down together over a cup of tea. We smoked more fags than was good for either of us – our wee secret.
Word came to me that you died peacefully, that you slipped away in your sleep. Chrissie, I hope that’s true. In those moments I hope you were content, and that you had around you all the people and voices you needed to see and hear, and I hope you felt the love of those who were far away. What has it been, ten years or more? A long time! In those hours before you fell asleep I hope you weren’t thinking of me – or the others. We’ve been fine. We’ve grown up. We’ve moved on.
All that passed between your son and my mother should have never come between us. Not all of my memories of those times are sad or bad or painful. I am not bitter, and I told him so. In spite of all the waters that have passed under that bridge we are much alike he and I. Sometimes when I laugh I hear him laughing, and as I remember we laughed a lot when I was little. Yes, there was joy too. In fact there was quite a good deal of joy and laughter, and tonight I am hoping that that happiness was with you in the end, and none of the bitterness or regret. Those things too are under the bridge.
Before I sign off on this letter, before all is said and done forever, it’s important that I tell you that I forgive you (for what will remain between you and me). I forgave all that a long time ago, and I regret not coming and telling you, and I hope – really hope – that somewhere in all that time you forgave me; forgave me for not being big enough to see you in time, and to bury the hatchet that was neither yours nor mine. With an agonising sigh it is over now. All that I pray for you now is rest and peace until I see you again in a place where it’ll all be different. I love you, and I have missed you.
With all my love, your grandson, Jason