My grandma died early in the morning on the 25th June. No one was surprised - she'd been so ill for months, meaning that the sadness was wrapped up in relief. We all felt it was better that she wasn't suffering.
When it happened, I thought a lot about the way I'd reacted to her illness. I felt so guilty for trying to disconnect myself from what had been happening. Now I see that I was just trying to protect myself from an increasingly painful reality while attempting to keep my life together and not fail all of my A levels at the same time. I think I coped as well as I could.
One thing hit me really hard.
In the haze, I had somehow forgotten that when a house is empty it needs to be sold.
(noun) A person who enjoys the warmth and simple pleasures of being at home.
I've always been a homebody, but that can be tricky when you've lived in seven houses on two continents for various periods of time.
My grandparents' house was the fourth house. I moved in there with my parents when we permanently came to England in 1999 and realised that our Australian dollars didn't convert very well into pounds. I was five.
Even when we'd moved out, their house remained a constant in my life. There were the family rituals, whether the annual near-death experience of bonfire night or the warmth of Christmas. But maybe even more important were the seemingly ordinary days: the sleep-overs, the reading, the walks, the cheese on toast.
I realised I needed to say goodbye. Properly.
My mum gave me the keys and my girlfriend drove me. I wanted to show her around, I said, and indeed I did. But I also wanted to show myself around, one last time.
I led her around, showing her each room and telling her all the stories that went with them. How my cousin Freddie had once locked me in the cupboard under the stairs, how Granny and I would make jam every summer, how I would let my imagination run wild in the clump of trees we called 'the Jungle'.
She saw the pencil marks on the wall of the bedroom had been my mother's and then mine, where Granny had recorded the ever-increasing heights of her grandchildren, and the spot in the garden where the swing had stood until its tree blew down in a storm.
I wanted to take my time and do it properly. I wanted to do the house justice.
I showed her the box on the hall windowsill where my grandma had collected stamps to raise money for research into MS, the disease that killed my grandad. The special tin I used to steal biscuits from. The big red bag of paints and papers she would take to art classes. Her collection of teapots.
To me, the house and its contents are so inextricably intertwined that to separate the two seems not just sacrilegious but actually impossible. So much of my childhood is woven into those walls. I've just turned 18, and I feel as though I'm being forced into growing up. It's as though someone has taken away the safety net but still expects me to walk the tightrope. Give me a harness and then maybe we'll talk.
When my grandad died, I spent years feeling guilty about things I didn't say or do. I don't feel like that this time around, maybe because I was much more aware of the time that we had and therefore more determined to make the most of it. She lived long enough to know I'd won the school prize for English, and I don't think I'd ever seen her so happy.
It still doesn't feel like she's gone, and maybe she isn't, really. I just hope that, when the time comes, we sell her house to a family, so that they can fill it with their own history. It still hurts, but I'm beginning to realise the great thing about memories; they're always with me. No matter how much time has passed or how far away I am, I can still relive those moments whenever I need to.
So goodbye Granny. You'll always be with me.
I love you.
I love you.